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Table linearization (was: A table navigation technique)

From: Paul Adelson <paul.adelson@citicorp.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 16:02:08 -0600
Message-Id: <199811172203.RAA04600@egate2.citicorp.com>
To: Jon Gunderson <jongund@staff.uiuc.edu>
Cc: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
Following up Jon Gunderson's comment:

> <snip>

> In a study we did here at UIUC with low vision students.  We found the most
> difficult task we asked them to perform was to find some information in a
> simple data table (3 out of 4 visually impaired students could not complete
> the task).
> So how do we address the needs of these disabilities related to table
> linearization?

A question from a naive bystander: is table linearization the best way to help
low-vision users, or are there other good options?

I ask partly because I sometimes deal with scrolled-off (and therefore
invisible) column headers on spreadsheets by getting the cursor onto a column
of interest and then cursoring down to find the row I'm interested in. This
allows me to quickly look at the data in the column I'm interested in, without
having to deal with all the other columns. I don't think this would be as easy
to do in a linearized table.

The other option I use (if I'm feeling less lazy) is to lock the cells that
contain the column and/or row headers so that they are always in view. The
equivalent for general browsing would be to have the option of readily
viewing/hearing/feeling the related headers for any cell that is currently
being rendered. This might be done with or without linearization.

So, here's the important piece of info that I don't know: Would low-vision,
learning-disabled, or even blind users be readily able to navigate a 2-D table
if they always had easy access to the current column/row header info, in which
case the guidelines might do well to allow developers flexibility in how they
implement a solution? Or is linearization a) known to work reliably and b) the
only option that is known to work reliably, in which case the guidelines might
do better to specify this more precise solution?

  -- Paul Adelson
* The views expressed are those of the
* author and do not necessarily reflect the
* position of Citibank or its affiliates.
Received on Tuesday, 17 November 1998 17:02:31 UTC

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