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Fwd: Working Group Decision on ISSUE-130: table-layout

From: Sean B. Palmer <sean@miscoranda.com>
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2011 18:25:34 +0000
Message-ID: <AANLkTi=ugx_-8TQPZCDPtvc3ua_VcX+b0vQ-1MjmuN-7@mail.gmail.com>
To: www-archive <www-archive@w3.org>
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sean B. Palmer
Date: Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 6:21 PM
Subject: Re: Working Group Decision on ISSUE-130: table-layout
To: public-html@w3.org

Sam Ruby wrote:

> == Uncontested observations: [...]
>   * WAI WCAG discourages the use of a table element for anything that's
>     not a real data

No it doesn't.

I do not even find this to have been observed. I searched public-html
spanning over the past year for "WCAG" and "table" and found nothing

WCAG 2.0 succeeds WCAG 1.0, and at no point discourages the use of
tables for layout.

There is an advisory technique for 1.3.1, "Using CSS rather than
tables for page layout", in the WCAG 2.0 quick reference guide:


This advisory technique is yet to be elucidated. Guideline 1.3.1
requires, however, that "Information, structure, and relationships
conveyed through presentation can be programmatically determined or
are available in text." This requires only that tables do not screw
with exegetic order. CSS may be used to violate 1.3.1 too.

The technique is a recipe. It shows you what to do, not why.

The closest to discouragement comes later in the techniques guide:

"Although WCAG 2 does not prohibit the use of layout tables, CSS-based
layouts are recommended in order to retain the defined semantic
meaning of the HTML table elements and to conform to the coding
practice of separating presentation from content. If a layout table is
used, however, it is important that the content make sense when

This states that WCAG 2.0 does not prohibit layout tables. The
recommendation for CSS is again part of a non-normative technique, not
a guideline. WCAG 2.0 does not prohibit layout tables, because layout
tables can be done sensibly. It does not discourage good practice with
difficult tools.

Don't do cargo cult accessibility.

Sean B. Palmer, http://inamidst.com/sbp/
Received on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 18:26:07 UTC

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