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RE: [#293] Summary for tables

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 08:45:43 -0500
Message-ID: <B3DC65CD2AA7EF449E554548C6FE1111135678@MAIL01.austin.utexas.edu>
To: "Chris Brainerd" <Chris.Brainerd@cds.hawaii.edu>, "Al Gilman" <asgilman@iamdigex.net>, "WAI GL (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Good point, Chris.  There are actually two issues here:

1. Whether WCAG 2.0 should require use a summary attribute for data
tables; and
2. The quality of the summary's contents.

The first issue is within our purview; the second one isn't, at least
not in the same way.

In another of your posts, I think I heard you mention that testing had
indicated that the summary sometimes provides Too Much Information.
Were the tests conducted by blind people who are regular screen reader
users? Or by sighted developers listening to the pages?

I ask this because I've seen pretty consistent splits along these lines,
and I'm curious.


John Slatin, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Technology & Learning
University of Texas at Austin
FAC 248C
1 University Station G9600
Austin, TX 78712
ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu
web http://www.ital.utexas.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Brainerd [mailto:Chris.Brainerd@cds.hawaii.edu] 
Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2003 6:10 pm
To: Al Gilman; WAI GL (E-mail)
Subject: RE: [#293] Summary for tables

If screen readers speak the summary attribute you may be contributing to
web page 'noise' while not providing useful information to the user.
This reminds me of well-intentioned but poor advice to add ALT text to
every image, even those used solely for decoration.

Chris Brainerd
Instructional Designer
Real Choices ACCESS
Center on Disability Studies
University of Hawaii

-----Original Message-----
From: Al Gilman [mailto:asgilman@iamdigex.net] 
Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 2003 8:45 AM
To: WAI GL (E-mail)
Subject: Re: [#293] Summary for tables

This comment from Phill Jenkins:


The summary attribute was not discussed in the June 9th proposal.  It is
the one attribute unique to layout and data tables that could be used to
help confirm that, in fact the should's and must's have been followed
and in fact this table is or is not a layout table.  The convention I
have been proposing is to use the keyword "layout" in the summary
attribute text.

When the table is a layout table, the summary attribute text SHOULD
include the text word "layout".

When the table is a data table, the summary attribute text SHOULD NOT
include the text word "layout".

This convention will help checking and repair tools, authoring tools,
users, and assistive technology better create, repair, identify, and
render tables as intended. Of course tools could assume that because of
the presence or absence of TH the table is or is not a data table, but
the presence of the "layout" will confirm the intent that it is a layout

Phill Jenkins


[June 9th proposal is a reference to a lightly edited re-send of


in which the reason for leaving SUMMARY out got left out.  Compare with

Received on Thursday, 19 June 2003 09:45:55 UTC

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