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Re: Issue 130

From: Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis <bhawkeslewis@googlemail.com>
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 2010 10:06:57 +0000
Message-ID: <AANLkTi=XS=Q_DJQYsJ2uLWAsLDi309uuHgnmWcK9f7P2@mail.gmail.com>
To: Richard Schwerdtfeger <schwer@us.ibm.com>
Cc: public-html@w3.org, HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>, Sam Ruby <rubys@us.ibm.com>
On Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 12:47 AM, Richard Schwerdtfeger
<schwer@us.ibm.com> wrote:
> I would like to request the chairs to reopen issue 130. I have a change
> proposal for it.
> The proposal is as follows:
> http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/layouttables

Some feedback on the change proposal.

   * "Stating that a table must not be used for layout is impractical"
is a key claim here, but the only supporting claim is that using
tables for layout plus role="presentation" makes it much easier for
"numerous applications, like databases" to conform to HTML5. The
change proposal could be improved by documenting this supporting claim
(for example, giving real-world examples of such applications) and by
providing any other supporting claims. For example, one might want to
give examples of layouts that cannot be achieved in commonly supported
browsers without the use of tables, if there are any such layouts.

   * The change proposal claims it is "impractical" for "a user agent
or an assistive technology to create their own set of heuristics for
determining if a table is to be used for layout". Multiple user agents
and assistive technology have created such heuristics. Whatever the
spec says there will continue to be large swathes of the web corpus
that use tables for layout without role="presentation", so such
heuristics will continue to be required. So it would be useful to
elaborate on what the change proposal means by "impractical" here.

   * Proposed spec text includes: "If a table is to be used for layout
it must be marked with the attribute role="presentation" for a user
agent to properly represent the table to an assistive technology and
to properly convey the intent of the author to tools that wish to
extract tabular data from the document." Since "presentation"
essentially nullifies the special tabular semantics of "table", such
that it might as well be a series of nested "div" elements, should it
not also a MUST requirement that such tables should make sense when
linearized as originally recommended by WCAG1?


   * Proposed spec text includes: "There are a variety of alternatives
to using HTML tables for layout, primarily using CSS positioning and
the CSS table model." It might be better to say something like:
"Applying CSS to structural markup is the preferred alternative to
using HTML tables for layout.", since authors often use other CSS
(e.g. floats) as an alternative to tables and since it's not obvious
what the non-CSS alternatives are.

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis
Received on Wednesday, 15 December 2010 10:07:30 UTC

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