W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > wai-xtech@w3.org > February 2009

Re: summary="" in HTML5 ISSUE-32

From: Matt Morgan-May <mattmay@adobe.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 13:15:25 -0800
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
CC: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>, David Poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>, Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>, James Graham <jgraham@opera.com>, Joshue O Connor <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>, Steve Axthelm <steveax@pobox.com>, Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, Simon Pieters <simonp@opera.com>, HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>, "wai-xtech@w3.org" <wai-xtech@w3.org>, "wai-liaison@w3.org" <wai-liaison@w3.org>, "janina@rednote.net" <janina@rednote.net>, Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>, W3C WAI Protocols & Formats <w3c-wai-pf@w3.org>
Message-ID: <C5CC466D.18540%mattmay@adobe.com>
On 2/26/09 11:16 AM, "Maciej Stachowiak" <mjs@apple.com> wrote:
> Limiting the problem scope to non-visual media would, at first glance,
> violate our Media Independence and Accessibility design principles:
> http://www.w3.org/TR/html-design-principles/#media-independence

I don't see any relevance to this principle.

> http://www.w3.org/TR/html-design-principles/#accessibility

But on further reflection, one should see the parallels between what is
written in that second link:

"The image in an img may not be visible to blind users, but that is a reason
to provide alternate text(...)"

...and what we're dealing with here:

"The structure of a table may not be visible to blind users, but that is a
reason to provide summary information"

> If there is a specific reason that a feature only for non-visual media
> would be more effective than a feature for all media, perhaps because
> trying to be fully general hurts the non-visual case, then it might be
> appropriate to have a feature for non-visual users only.

There is a very specific use case for non-visual users that @summary serves.
When a screen-reader user navigates in table mode (at least in JAWS), the
user can hear the summary of each table in a document with one keypress.
This is an affordance equivalent to the visual user scanning the document
for navigation. Without it, those users need to enter a table and progress
linearly, cell by cell, until they determine whether the content of that
table is relevant to them or not. It's a very time-consuming process for
documents with lots of tables.

It would be simple to provide comparable functionality to sighted users, but
they don't experience anything near the same obstacles that screen-reader
users do.

Could this be done in a way that aids universal design? Sure: you could
present a UI component to users that mimics the feature that's so useful to
screen-reader users. The iCab browser did similar things with accesskey, for
example. Anyway, after 11 years of HTML 4.01, no user has found it valuable
enough to even extend a browser to offer that functionality to sighted
users, much less add a +1 to making @summary available to them.

It's all well and good that HTML5 has design principles. But it's
indefensible to claim accessibility as one of them, and then make (or
defend) a design decision that _reduces_ accessibility to people with
disabilities on the premise that able-bodied users are being left behind.
It's a red herring.

Received on Thursday, 26 February 2009 21:17:09 UTC

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