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RE: [wcag2] Layout tables

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Mon, 19 Apr 2004 09:56:48 -0500
Message-ID: <C46A1118E0262B47BD5C202DA2490D1A1E3104@MAIL02.austin.utexas.edu>
To: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <unagi69@concentric.net>, "Web Content Accessiblity Guidelines Mailing List" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

I agree that tables are visual constructs. But that doesn't mean they
aren't also conceptual structures and formal ones.

Once upon a time, in a land far away, there were no paragraphs; there
weren't even spaces between words.  Writing surfaces were rare and
expensive, and writing and transcription for incredibly laborious and
time-donsuming. So the monks got as much text on the page as they
could,.  But readers would come along and add marginlia-- paragraph,
literally writing "beside writing."  Eventually this sort of thing led
to the use of white space to separage blocks of text visually. And--
much, much later-- the paragraph was reified as an intellectual
construct, a structural element.  

Paragraphs are still visual constructs, but they're also intellectual
structures that shape the way thinking goes. People who are blind use
them, too.  Same for tables, I think.


"Good design is accessible design." 
Please note our new name and URL!
John Slatin, Ph.D.
Director, Accessibility Institute
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.utexas.edu/research/accessibility/


-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Gregory J. Rosmaita
Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2004 4:15 am
To: Web Content Accessiblity Guidelines Mailing List
Subject: Re: [wcag2] Layout tables

a table, be it a layout table or a data table, is a uni-modal construct
it has meaning only so far as the user has ability to perceive the 
relationships between the discrete items and their relative importance, 
which is determined by their physical placement, relative size, etc.

this has been a discussion within PF circles for at least 6 years -- len

kasday and i led a 2 man crusade starting at CSUN '98 attempting to get 
anyone who would listen (both within the WAI and the wider W3C) to
the indisputable fact that a TABLE is a visual slash uni-modal construct

and, hence, its use should be (A) proscribed and (B) it should be 
deprecated from XHTML and added as an erratum to HTML 4.x

there is no need for layout tables -- that is what the DIV element is
-- and, since a table is NEVER necessary for layout, and use of tables
layout should no be inevitable, but anathema -- something that should be

brought to the attention of the ER WG, as well as the AU WG, and every
WG within W3C...

as for the use of tables for the presentation of data, as expressed in
extant markup and the design rationale behind it, it is nothing more
than a 
clear cut, unequivocal case of a stylistic element masquerading as a 
structural element --
the underlying data used to populate the table should be capable of
repurposed into whatever form fits the users' needs, not to mention the 
capacity of the device he or she is using to access the information --
is important is the data and the relationships that exist between the
-- a TABLE is merely one means of displaying the data and the
between them, but it is NOT the sole means, nor should it be treated as 
such -- especially not because quote everyone does it unquote

it is the data and the relationship between the data that is all
and which needs to be documented and provided with markup that binds it
a relational manner not only to the other discrete data elements, but to

the data classification scheme and any and every grouping or statistical

as i have argued upon innumerable occasions in the past, the best 
illustration that a TABLE is merely a stylistic convention onto which
level of informational and relational binding has been grafted 
after-the-fact is the original WCAG 1.0 techniques document description
how an alternative browser or assistive technology, in conjunction with
mainstream browser, should be able to repurpose the underlying data that

has been marked up in document source as a TABLE:


The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the
intelligent are full of doubt.                 -- Bertrand Russell
            Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Camera Obscura:           http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/index.html
VICUG NYC:          http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/vicug/index.html
Read 'Em & Speak:   http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/books/index.html
Received on Monday, 19 April 2004 10:57:05 UTC

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