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RE: Stylesheet columnisation

From: Leonard R. Kasday <kasday@acm.org>
Date: Tue, 02 Nov 1999 16:00:29 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: "Neff, Robert" <Robert.Neff@usmint.treas.gov>, Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>, Paul Bohman <paulb@cpd2.usu.edu>
Cc: GARETH P PARKINSON <298gpp@tay.ac.uk>, W3c-wai-ig@w3.org

You're asking whether using tables for layout is contrary to Double-A,
Right? Personally speaking I don't think so.  

Looking at http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WAI-WEBCONTENT-19990505/#gl-table-markup

We have

5.3 Do not use tables for layout unless the table makes sense when

You have to be careful about that, but it doesn't rule out tables for layout.

It then says

 Once user agents support style sheet positioning, tables should not be
used for layout.

I read this to say that we can use tables for layout until all user agents
we might reasonably expect a user to have support style sheet positioning.
I think there's agreement we're not there yet. So this doesn't require
tables yet.

However theres

10.3 Until user agents (including assistive technologies) render
side-by-side text correctly, provide a linear text alternative (on the
current page or some other) for all tables that lay out text in parallel,
word-wrapped columns. [Priority 3] 

So using tables for layout violates triple-A unless you have a separate
page that doesn't use the tables for layout. 

And if you do provide such a page, it better follow
11.4 If, after best efforts, you cannot create an accessible page, provide
a link to an alternative page that uses W3C technologies, is accessible,
has equivalent information (or functionality), and isupdated as often as
the inaccessible (original) page. [Priority 1] 

Or the page doesn't even get a single-A.


At 01:52 PM 11/2/99 -0500, Neff, Robert wrote:
>But isn't that contrary to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
>		-----Original Message-----
>		From:	Leonard R. Kasday [mailto:kasday@acm.org]
>		Sent:	Tuesday, November 02, 1999 1:38 PM
>		To:	Kynn Bartlett; Paul Bohman
>		Cc:	GARETH P PARKINSON; W3c-wai-ig@w3.org
>		Subject:	Re: Stylesheet columnisation
>		Here's my short and extended opinions about using tables for
>		Short opinion:
>		Given the current browser situation, we can't use style
>sheets for layout.
>		Instead, use a table entirely for layout or entirely for
>data, but don't
>		mix these uses in one table or nest data tables inside
>layout tables.  (Or
>		avoid table layout altogether unless it serves a real
>		Also, help the reader identify when a table is used for data
>		1. Including a caption of the form "Table of blah blah
>		2. Using header cells in the top row.
>		Extended opinion:
>		1. Another advantage of tables is that with current tools
>it's easy to
>		control the order in which the contents are read, because
>it's directly
>		determined by the table layout.  Tools that use CSS for
>layout may produce
>		a reading order that's very different than the visual order.
>This is
>		because e.g. if you slide text blocks around on the screen,
>all the tool
>		does is change the coordinates, not the reading order.  This
>happens for
>		example with Microsoft Publisher.  Of course, it's
>straightforward to do
>		this if you're writing raw HTML and CSS by hand.  But you
>run into problems
>		with some visual type editing tools.
>		2. It's true that using stylesheets for layout instead of
>		theoretically gives the screen reader a way to deterine if
>it's really a
>		data table or layout control.  However, this could easily be
>done without
>		style sheets, e.g. by requiring a caption on all data tables
>(even a null
>		caption), or defining a class.
>		3. The current author guidelines permit tables for layout
>until browsers
>		shape up, but require that they make sense when read in the
>order of the
>		raw HTML ("linearized").
>		4. Therefore, perhaps we should permanently allow the use of
>tables for
>		layout provided that a standard way is agreed on to
>distinguish layout from
>		data use.  We've got time to think about this since it
>doesn't impact what
>		we're doing right now.
>		Len
>		At 10:55 AM 11/1/99 -0800, Kynn Bartlett wrote:
>		>At 10:57 AM 11/1/1999 , Paul Bohman wrote:
>		>>I noticed that, although you are proficient at CSS layout,
>you are still
>		>>reluctant to use CSS for positioning. For example, the
>HTML Writers Guild is
>		>>built on table layouts and the Aware page
>(http://aware.hwg.org/) avoids
>		>>layouts that would require either tables or CSS
>		>
>		>[...]
>		>
>		>>Even though I really like the concept of CSS, I have my
>doubts about its
>		>>usefulness until browsers give it better support.
>		>
>		>This is the crux of the matter.  CSS is not widely
>supported enough,
>		>nor reliably supported enough, to be able to use CSS
>reliably for
>		>layout.  In the case of the HTML Writers Guild, there's an
>		>design consideration involved in that while it's okay to
>look "different"
>		>in various browsers, we can't look "bad" in any of them,
>and if you
>		>use CSS for positioning you take a serious risk of looking
>		>in some browsers.
>		>
>		>(Most users, when they encounter a page that doesn't look
>right, will
>		>think the page is poorly designed, not that their browser
>is deficient.
>		>So the HWG site has to be created in a way that it will
>look "right"
>		>cross-browser.)
>		>
>		>-- 
>		>Kynn Bartlett
>		>President, HTML Writers Guild
>		>AWARE Center Director
>		>
>		>
>		>
>		-------
>		Leonard R. Kasday, Ph.D.
>		Institute on Disabilities/UAP, and
>		Department of Electrical Engineering
>		Temple University
>		Ritter Hall Annex, Room 423, Philadelphia, PA 19122
>		kasday@acm.org        
>		(215) 204-2247 (voice)
>		(800) 750-7428 (TTY)
Leonard R. Kasday, Ph.D.
Institute on Disabilities/UAP, and
Department of Electrical Engineering
Temple University

Ritter Hall Annex, Room 423, Philadelphia, PA 19122
(215) 204-2247 (voice)
(800) 750-7428 (TTY)
Received on Tuesday, 2 November 1999 15:58:06 UTC

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