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RE: Caption and Summary : [techs] Latest HTML Techniques Draft

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2003 08:18:56 -0600
Message-ID: <C46A1118E0262B47BD5C202DA2490D1A1E301E@MAIL02.austin.utexas.edu>
To: "Sailesh Panchang" <sailesh.panchang@deque.com>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
I agree very strongly with Sailesh.  The <caption> provides a title for
the table and is available to everyone. The summary makes it possible
for blind users to gain information about the table organization or
content that is readily available to people who can see the table-blind
users often have to listen to the table for quite a while in order to
gain the same understanding.
The summary would work well in the example cited-the of checkboxes by
hotmail (and other Web-based mail applications like Yahoo and Webmail)
to mark messages for deletion or some other operation--.  It would be
even better if the subject field for the message was associated with the
checkbox via the <label> element. (So this example involves techniques
for tables and techniques for forms.)
-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Sailesh Panchang
Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2003 3:43 PM
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Subject: Caption and Summary : [techs] Latest HTML Techniques Draft
Ref: http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20/WD-WCAG20-HTML-TECHS-20031104.html
The tech doc has always maintained that "It is rare to use both the
caption element and the summary attribute (in a table) since one or the
other should be enough to provide a description."
Comment:  It is a good practice to  have captions for all tables as it
is like a table heading and is visible to all. But the summary is not
displayed on screen and is especially meant to provide additional cues
for orientation / navigation to non-sighted users. For complex / large
tables   and  tables that use row/column spanning, useful info can be
conveyed through the summary  attribute. There are many times when both
attributes  are complementary  to each other and the HTML tech doc
should not suggest that it is rare to use both. In fact  the doc should
suggest that one should  make the assessment for each table   on a case
by case  basis.
Take for instance even a simple table with 6 columns that lists e-mail
messages by rows. Let's say the first column contains   a checkbox for
selecting messages. It is useful if the captionsays "Sent Messages
Folder"  and the summary says "Use the checkbox in the first column to
select   / unselect the message in the respective (or corresponding?)
I figured this out myself  on the MSN-Hotmail site that uses this
design. A table caption and summary   would make life simpler in this
context for instance.
I have pointed this out to MSN Support too. 
Sailesh Panchang
Senior Accessibility Engineer 
Deque Systems,11180  Sunrise Valley Drive, 
4th Floor, Reston VA 20191
Tel: 703-225-0380 Extension 105 
E-mail: sailesh.panchang@deque.com
Fax: 703-225-0387
* Look up <http://www.deque.com> *

Received on Wednesday, 3 December 2003 09:18:56 UTC

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