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RE: Stylesheet columnisation

From: Neff, Robert <Robert.Neff@usmint.treas.gov>
Date: Tue, 2 Nov 1999 18:23:45 -0500
Message-ID: <B1E68D292F3CD111A57C0000F67CB3CA0104424B@WDCSRV03.usmint.treas.gov>
To: "'Leonard R. Kasday'" <kasday@acm.org>, "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
As I understand the guidelines double-A, tables can be used for layout and
formating using HTML 3 and 4 and CSS.  If you want Triple-A then you cannot
use tables for layout unless you use CSS.

		-----Original Message-----
		From:	Leonard R. Kasday [mailto:kasday@acm.org]
		Sent:	Tuesday, November 02, 1999 4:00 PM
		To:	Neff, Robert; Kynn Bartlett; Paul Bohman
		Cc:	GARETH P PARKINSON; W3c-wai-ig@w3.org
		Subject:	RE: Stylesheet columnisation

		Bob,

		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

		quote
		5.3 Do not use tables for layout unless the table makes
sense when
		linearized. 
		unquote

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

		It then says

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

		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

		quote
		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] 
		unquote

		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
		quote
		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] 
		unquote

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

		Len



		At 01:52 PM 11/2/99 -0500, Neff, Robert wrote:
		>But isn't that contrary to the Web Content Accessibility
Guidelines
		>Double-A?
		>
		>		-----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
		>layout.
		>
		>		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
		>purpose).
		>
		>		Also, help the reader identify when a table
is used for data
		>by:
		>		1. Including a caption of the form "Table of
blah 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
		>tables
		>		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
		>positioning.
		>		>
		>		>[...]
		>		>
		>		>>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
		>extra
		>		>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
		>"broken"
		>		>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
		>mailto:kynn@hwg.org
		>		>President, HTML Writers Guild
		>http://www.hwg.org/
		>		>AWARE Center Director
		>http://aware.hwg.org/
		>		>
		>		>
		>		>
		>		-------
		>		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
		kasday@acm.org        
		(215) 204-2247 (voice)
		(800) 750-7428 (TTY)
Received on Tuesday, 2 November 1999 18:23:51 GMT

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