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RE: [webwatch] Tables, yet again

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2001 00:01:32 -0500
Message-Id: <200103020442.XAA4713445@smtp2.mail.iamworld.net>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Cc: www-html@w3.org, dsr@w3.org
Evidently this is an FAQ.  This question requires a clarifying interpretation
of both HTML and WCAG 1.0 to be put to bed.  Is the interpretation that I
offered below supported, or is there a better interpreation?

What follows is a quote of a message I just sent on
<webwatch@yahoogroups.com>.

Al

--

At 12:00 AM 2001-03-01 -0500, you wrote:
>Jim --
>
>I may be wrong (but I'm 90% sure that I'm not), according to HTML 4.0
>validation, a web page is not considered valid HTML if the table does not
>include the summary attribute. An easy way to verify whether this is true is
>to use Dave Raggett's Tidy validator.
>
>One of the important aspects of ensuring accessibility is to ensure that a
>web page is properly coded against the HTML DTD rules.
>

[Al, here.]  

Tidy is a great tool.  But its purpose is repair, not validation.  It is not
trying to split hairs exactly on the precise line set down by the
specification.  It is trying to help you get on with life with a good
page.  In
the process it may prompt you for a SUMMARY because a SUMMARY may help you
have
a good page, and not strictly because if it doesn't get a SUMMARY it won't be
able to emit a valid repaired page.  

What is in the DTD for stricy HTML 4.01 is

<!ATTLIST TABLE                        -- table element --
[snip]
  summary     %Text;         #IMPLIED  -- purpose/structure for speech
output--

This allows a TABLE without a SUMMARY.  Unless that #IMPLIED had read
#REQUIRED
it is not a format validity error if the attribute is absent from your HTML
code.

In addition, SUMMARY is not always required for accessible content, either. 
The first place to put overview information for a table is in the CAPTION
element if you want it to show visually at all times.  It is also possible to
put a brief TITLE attribute on the TABLE element itself.  Either of these may
be sufficient.  A SUMMARY should be written to expand on these, if they
exist. 
If the CAPTION or TITLE already says all there is to say, there need be no
SUMMARY.  

Al

>-Mike
>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Jim Thatcher
[<mailto:jim@jimthatcher.com%5D>mailto:jim@jimthatcher.com]
>> Sent: Wednesday, February 28, 2001 10:15 PM
>> To: webwatch@yahoogroups.com
>> Subject: RE: [webwatch] Tables, yet again
>>
>>
>> Hi Glenda,
>>
>> I think summaries should *not* be included on tables used for layout.
>> It adds noise to an already noisy experience. There is nothing in the
>> Section 508 Standards that even suggest that summaries be used for
>> tables. The WAI checkpoint on table summaries is number 5.6, Priority 3 -
>> Though not totally clear in the wording, the techniques are talking about
>> data tables.
>>
>> Jim
>> jim@jimthatcher.com
>> Accessibility Consulting
>> <http://jimthatcher.com/>http://jimthatcher.com
>> 512-306-0931
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Glenda Watson Hyatt
[<mailto:Glenda@eaglecom.bc.ca%5D>mailto:Glenda@eaglecom.bc.ca]
>> Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2001 12:47 AM
>> To: Webwatch
>> Subject: [webwatch] Tables, yet again
>>
>>
>> Hi all,
>>
>> This has no doubt been discussed several times already, so please
>> bear with
>> me -- I'm going to ask again.  When using tables for layout, is using the
>> SUMMARY still required/prefered?  I am in the midst of auditing a
>> government
>> website for policymakers, so I am hoping there will be consensus on this
>> one.
>>
>> Looking forward to hearing from you.
>>
>> Cheers,
>> Glenda
>>
>> *********
>> Glenda Watson Hyatt
>> Soaring Eagle Communications
>> "Creating freedom and power through accessible communications"
>> E Mail: <mailto:Glenda@eaglecom.bc.ca>mailto:Glenda@eaglecom.bc.ca
>> Website: <http://www.eaglecom.bc.ca/>http://www.eaglecom.bc.ca
>> Want to know how to make your website accessible to more people?
>> Subscribe to our FREE newsletter by emailing
>> <mailto:newsletter@eaglecom.bc.ca>mailto:newsletter@eaglecom.bc.ca
>>
>> *********
>>
>>
>>
>>
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>
>
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>  
Received on Thursday, 1 March 2001 23:43:20 GMT

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