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Re: FW: CHANGE PROPOSAL: Table Summary

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 2009 20:40:14 +0000 (UTC)
To: Cynthia Shelly <cyns@microsoft.com>
Cc: HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0912012030400.32245@hixie.dreamhostps.com>
On Tue, 1 Dec 2009, Cynthia Shelly wrote:
> Can we please put this on the agenda for 12/10?  I have a prior 
> engagement this week, so I won't be able to discuss it on 12/3.
> http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/HTML/wiki/Summary_Change_Proposal_Nov_18%2C_2009

I'm a little uncomfortable with this change proposal.

Specifically, I feel two of the requests -- adding summary="" and 
orientation="" -- are actually likely to cause harm to accessibility 
overall rather than help it.

Re summary="": I think it would be better to encourage authors to always 
provide visible text explaining tables, since this would would be more 
likely to be correct, and would benefit more users. We've seen that when 
accessibility information is not visible to authors by default, they tend 
to screw it up, so having help information only visible to screen readers 
is unlikely to help accessibility; and we've seen that for the few authors 
who do provide helpful summary="" text tend to put values in that 
attribute that would be useful to more than just users of accessibility 
tools, causing other users to miss out on potentially useful information.

Re orientation="": It seems dangerous to have features that are so 
media-specific, since again, authors are unlikely to use it correctly. It 
seems better for user agents to use the information that can be derived 
from the table model to determine whether the table is row-major or 
column-major. If we keep this in the proposal, we should at least include 
a few examples of tables where the UA would be unable to accurately 
determien the right reading direction, especially giving examples of 

Since I will be unable to attend the call on 12/10, could I request that 
we discuss this by e-mail instead of on the teleconference?

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Tuesday, 1 December 2009 20:40:45 UTC

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