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SUMMARY expands on CAPTION or TITLE _as required_

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2000 20:53:05 -0500
Message-Id: <Version.32.20001219105654.042fead0@pop.iamdigex.net>
To: "Pawley, Neil" <neil.pawley@ccta.gsi.gov.uk>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
At 02:17 PM 2000-12-19 +0100, Pawley, Neil wrote:
>I am afraid that I am to blame for the open.gov.uk website.  It is my design
>and my implementation.

You are to be congratulated on a carefully done and significantly successful
effort there.

>Firstly, I would very much like to thank everyone for their past comments,
>its great to get some quality feedback on what I am trying to do here.
>I have made a number or corrections and changes in light of these
>1. I have downgraded the WAI rating to a single A, until further corrections
>can be made to achieve a higher level.
>2. I have also corrected the DOCTYPE so that the page now validates
>I do have some concerns about introducing further graphics into the page.
>My primary concerns have been reducing possible download speeds and deleting
>unnecessary eye candy graphics.  They are of little use to most people and
>even less use to the visually impaired.

How much use they are to how many people I can't quantify.  But there are
people with bona fide disabilities such as dyslexia for whom they are a
considerable aid.  For better or for worse there is no way _in the markup_ to
distinguish between gratuitous decoration and effective graphic enhancement of
communication.  In this respect what we need to get you is not guidelines
but a
right-brained partner in design.  The art is in the integration, the gestalt.

>If there is a way in which images can be used to aid usability I am more
>than willing to experiment.
>I am also concerned about the WAI guidelines insistence on the SUMMARY
>attribute for tables.  It seems like a good idea in principle but can be
>more of a hindrance in practice.  Browsers for the visually impaired will
>read out the contents of this attribute, which can be annoying and
>inefficient if the contents of the table are text based and self explanatory
>in themselves.  Explanations, however short, can just get in the way.  Why
>should we be duplicating information and handicapping the browsing
>experience of precisely the users we are trying to assist.
>An example would be the Organisational Index listing on the front page.  The
>title is textual and precise, the next line gives an explanation as to its
>purpose and the third presents the links to the relevant pages.  A SUMMARY
>attribute is superfluous.  I have examined this at length with blind
>institutions within the UK and their feelings are very similar to mine.  If
>anyone can help on this it would be much appreciated.

At the time that we negotiated this attribute into HTML 4.0, the concept was
that it gave the author a place to put text which was to _follow and expand on
the CAPTION (or TITLE)_ _as required_ in the context of linear reading.

A problem in the HTML specification is that if you only read the
explanation of
SUMMARY this is not clear.  One has to read the discussion of CAPTION to
understand the "optional expansion to complete the orientation to the TABLE"
function assigned to SUMMARY.

If your Organisational Index is as you describe it, "no SUMMARY at all" sounds
like a perfectly good design for effective communication.  If you feel that
language of the guidelines makes the SUMMARY sound obligatory, we shound take
that up in the content guidelines group.  It could just be that the message is
getting exaggerated as it passes through multiple stages of transmission,
as in
the game of 'rumors.'  Part of the problem is that there is a vast
variation in
complexity among those document components marked TABLE.  The SUMMARY can
from copious to none as a function of the actual TABLE and the orientation to
the table already afforded by CAPTION and/or TITLE.

The HTML Techniques for WCAG 1.0 do present the CAPTION first in terms of
providing orientation to a TABLE, and how the TITLE is an alternative to the
CAPTION in doing this.  It talks about how the SUMMARY is more important in
absense of a CAPTION but it never gets down to the point of a) saying that the
SUMMARY should be written on the assumption that it will be read after the
CAPTION or TITLE (which should be true) and "if the TABLE is simple and the
CAPTION or TITLE says what there is to say about the TABLE, no SUMMARY may be
needed."  Which is also true.


>Once again, I would like to thank everyone for their contributions and hope
>that there are many more comments to come.
>neil pawley
>internet development consultant
>central computer & telecommunications agency
>rosebery court, st andrews business park, norwich nr7 0hs
>direct line :   +44 1603 704852
>fax :   +44 1603 704817
>gtn :   3040 4852
>mobile :   0831 320813
>email :   npawley@ccta.gov.uk
>"I spent a lot of my money on booze, birds and fast cars.  The rest I just
>George Best
Received on Tuesday, 19 December 2000 20:51:32 UTC

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