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Re: How Much Of A Problem Are Tables Used for Design?

From: Steven McCaffrey <smccaffr@MAIL.NYSED.GOV>
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999 09:25:35 -0500
Message-Id: <s8351798.086@mail.nysed.gov>
To: <sweetent@home.com>, <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I have much to say on this thread, but let's keep the focus on moving forward as Kynn suggests.

Developing templates is good and useful; we should consider identifying
the needs of those educators for their pages and then providing some
accessible examples.  Would you like to work on this?"
Thank you Kynn. Yes indeed, let's put the focus on developing solutions.
Sounds like another excellent Kynn challenge.

We should develop classes of cases.
The fact is that there are some cases where a linearized version of a tabular layout does not provide the blind screen reader user with equivalent access.
It may not be much trouble for me to go feeling around the screen to get the context (category as in the boadcast Yahoo example) for a single entry, but what if my job entails many "finding the context" operations?  
Archimedes once said you can always find some number of small numbers to add up to a sum larger than any given number.

If each "finding the context operation" takes me, for ease of discussion sake, 10 seconds, how much time will it take to perform 10 such operations? 20 operations?  In this case, the math is easy. This assumes the time for one "finding the context" operation is constant and equal but does finding sub-contexts take even longer?  Finding context times may be a linear function or may be an exponential function if  levels of contexts are involved.
The original question was "How much of a problem are tables for accessibility".  The above is a admittedly crude but perhaps a good first order approximation at quantifying the answer.


Steve McCafrey
Information Technology Services
New York State Department of Education

>>> Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com> 11/18/99 11:17PM >>>
At 06:51 PM 11/18/1999 , Claude Sweet wrote:
>I respect you as a person, but I must disagree with your position.
>Asking someone to learn something is fine, but placing an unfunded
>MANDATE that everyone MUST learn html is entirely another matter.

Of course it's unfair.  That's why tools should support accessibility,
and then we wouldn't have this problem -- someone could use Front
Page or Mozilla Editor, and produce a working, accessible web page.

>Education is constantly facing some politician passing a bill to have
>schools perform a specific task, but fails to provide the necessary
>resources to accomplish the mandate.
>It is not fair to impose the task of learning to hand write html code
>and become an experienced web designer. It would be great if funds are
>provided to establish a school or district wide department with paid web
>designers who will take the data from teachers to create an accessible
>web site.

Have you seen the "EMT"/"WAFT" idea?  That's been proposed on 
Scott Leubking's excellent "ba-univ-tech-access" list for just
such a case as this -- a university with trained web designers
who can do the accessibility magic for professors and other
staff who aren't skilled in HTML.

>When html templates are commonly available that demonstrate how to
>produce specific types of web pages, especially constructed to provide
>examples that educators in various grades and disciplines can use -
>then, and only then will you achieve your accessibility goals. 

So, let's work on that. :)  Keep in mind that web accessibility (and
web design itself!) is a very young field -- the Web Content Accessibility
Guidelines _just_ came out this year!

Developing templates is good and useful; we should consider identifying
the needs of those educators for their pages and then providing some
accessible examples.  Would you like to work on this?

Kynn Bartlett                                    mailto:kynn@hwg.org 
President, HTML Writers Guild                    http://www.hwg.org/ 
AWARE Center Director                          http://aware.hwg.org/ 
Received on Friday, 19 November 1999 09:28:08 UTC

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