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Re: Use of headers and summary attributes (was : <font> (was Support Existing Content))

From: Roger Johansson <roger@456bereastreet.com>
Date: Fri, 4 May 2007 19:32:26 +0200
Message-Id: <CDF791F6-DED7-4F5B-BF5D-BEE05B9F18B8@456bereastreet.com>
To: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

On 4 maj 2007, at 19.07, Henri Sivonen wrote:

> On May 4, 2007, at 19:58, aurelien levy wrote:
>> the problem is not on the use of scope instead of headers/id, it's  
>> that at this time headers/id have a better support in the  
>> assistive technology so it's very important to keep them in html 5  
>> and the summary attribut to.
> Thank you. This is the kind of input that is needed instead of just  
> saying "It is important for accessibility."

One wonders why such input was not asked for before the attributes  
were removed...

Anyway, here is one document that may be useful to clarify some  
things, and even provide some of the much asked for use cases:


I have done some quick testing of how the summary attribute is  
handled by JAWS 8.0, one of the most widely used screen readers.

1. Useful summary text

summary="This table shows that the increase in population from the  
years 1990 to 2000 is 20%."

JAWS speaks the summary text before entering the table.

2. Null summary text


JAWS says nothing before entering the table.

3. No summary attribute

JAWS announces the table details ("table with four columns and seven  
rows") before entering the table.

The conclusion is that the summary attribute can be (and is) used to  
make data tables more accessible, especially to people using screen  
readers, and should *not* be removed.

The headers attribute has, as mentioned above, better support in  
screen readers. It is also needed for irregular tables. From the HTML  
4.01 Recommendation [1]:

"The headers attribute is generally needed when headers are placed in  
irregular positions with respect to the data they apply to."

In other words, the headers attribute should also stay.


Received on Friday, 4 May 2007 17:32:46 UTC

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