Re: Complex Table Examples

Lachlan Hunt wrote:

> * What are the use cases?

The headers/id technique for complex tables is used in:

- Official United States Postal Service policy (AS-508-A Section 508
Technical Guidelines) are used in statements of work, vendor
requirements, both internally and externally. - per Norman B.

- Dutch Accessibility Law (R-pd.11.5).
English Translation via Babel:

- National Science Foundation Policy and Standards manual.

- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather
Service, Section 508 policy.

- University of Wisconsin Accessibility policy.

- California State University Policy


- Section 508

Examples "in the wild":

"Fidelity Investments depends heavily on complex tables for displaying
product and customer account information. Portions of the web site
have been using complex table markup for years to improve
accessibility. Unfortunately, most of the examples I am familiar with
are behind the customer password.  For those with personal Fidelity
accounts, look in the Accounts and Trade section...Id/headers are used
in dynamic tables for grouping rows and/or columns (e.g. Large Cap
Funds, International Funds, etc). Id headers are used on dynamic
tables with irregular shapes, where the table provides a "total" row
in a larger, more prominent font that will not fit in the regular
cell. Cells are then merged in that row, breaking the standard
connection to the TH for that column..."  - Jeanne Spellman.

> * What problems it solves and how?

Scope attributes are used to specify table information per
rows/columns. Assistive technology (AT) (e.g. screen readers) assumes
that all columns/rows of headers should be announced. Currently
WinEyes does not support the scope attribute.

In contrast, headers/id attributes are used to specify information per
cell. In complex tables where not all column headers are relevant to
all cells in the column etc the headers will be announced on a per
cell basis when the headers/id technique is used.

In a data table accessibility test, Roger Hudson and Russ Weakley
describe how "At this stage, it appears that id and headers are the
most effective way to make complex data tables accessible. Although id
and headers are slightly more difficult to code than scope, the
apparent poor screen reader support for scope means that this is
probably not an effective accessibility option."

> * Who benefits and how?

The vision impaired and the blind benefit because they can access
information on a per cell basis. Without proper markup to associate
data cells with header cells, table information is useless. Those who
use screen readers listen to data, without any visual cues. When this
technique is used it enables the user to determine which particular
data matches with which particular headers.

Example id/header markup:

How it sounds in a screen reader:

> * The incentive that authors will have to actually use it.

It provides accessibility. Incentives include:

- It is good business practice. People with disabilities comprise of
approximately 600 million or 10% of the world population that form a
potential market which is untapped.

- Access for people with disabilities to web sites is law or policy in
many places.

- It is socially responsible and equitable. It demonstrates that you
care about providing access to information for those who would
otherwise be locked out and lose their opportunity to use the web.

- Many companies, organizations, and governments have train developers
and designers in the technique.

- Many tutorials, books, and courses are already in place. For instance:

- Current tools exist that help authors with this technique. These
include but are not limited to:

  Complex Table Inspector - Gez Lemon.

  Table Inspector - Gez Lemon.

  Accessible Table Builder - Ian Lloyd.

  WAVE - Temple University Institute on Disabilities and WebAIM.

  Web Developer - Chris Pederick.

  Cynthia - HiSoftware, ICDRI and The Internet Society
  Disability Chapter.

  Functional Accessibility Evaluator - Center for
  Instructional Technology Accessibility.

  Deque Ramp

> * How it could be implemented.

It already has been implemented via HTML 4.

> * The incentive that UA vendors have to implement it.

AT vendors already implement it. It provides accessibility. Again:

- It is socially responsible and equitable.

- It is law or policy in many places.

- It is good business practice. For instance as Jeanne Spellman of
Fidelity Investments states, "Large financial institutions need to
present complex financial data in tables. Large financial institutions
that do business with the U.S. Federal government are required to
provide Section 508 accessibility compliance. Many large financial
institutions like Fidelity Investments and Bank of America have a
commitment to providing accessibility to customers...The
implementation should stay the same as HTML 4. UA vendors shouldn't
take it out of their products..."

Best Regards,
Laura L. Carlson
Information Technology Systems and Services
University of Minnesota Duluth
Duluth, MN U.S.A. 55812-3009

Received on Thursday, 17 May 2007 19:41:22 UTC