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Re: summary vs. caption

From: Joe Clark <joeclark@contenu.nu>
Date: Wed, 5 Dec 2001 12:20:41 -0500
Message-Id: <a05100305b834073e1d40@[]>
To: WAI-IG <w3c-wai-ig@W3.org>
Cc: Julian.Scarlett@sheffield.gov.uk
><Quote> A table caption describes the nature of the table in one to three
>sentences [Phill recommends one or less]

A table caption should be conceived of as an explanation of what the 
table is all about, exactly as though it were a figure in a 
scientific paper ("Figure 2. Population density in Malaysia, 1994").

><quote> A summary of the relationships among cells is especially important
>for tables with nested headings, cells that span multiple columns or rows,
>or other relationships that may not be obvious from analyzing the structure
>of the table but that may be apparent in a visual rendering of the table. A
>summary may also describe how the table fits into the context of the
>current document. If no caption is provided, it is even more critical to
>provide a summary.[Phill recommends the summary attribute for common layout
>tables, such as navigation layouts]

HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE IDEA, so horrible it prompts the use of CapsLock.

Relationships among cells should be encoded for machine processing 
using headers/id/axis and the one million other tags provided for 
that purpose. For God's sake, don't waste our time trying to explain 
in words what goes with what in the table. This is yet another 
example of WCAG advice produced by well-meaning people with no 
real-world experience.

summary="" is the only summary value that should ever be used for 
layout tables. You should leave summary out entirely in that case. 
WCAG already tells us not to use accessible table coding for layout 
tables; summary is an accessibility tag.
   Joe Clark | joeclark@joeclark.org | <http://joeclark.org/access/>
   Accessibility articles, resources, and critiques
Received on Wednesday, 5 December 2001 12:23:22 UTC

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