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Re: Clarification of rational for deprecation of @longdesc and @summary

From: Joshue O Connor <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>
Date: Tue, 05 Feb 2008 20:24:00 +0000
Message-ID: <47A8C5E0.5020202@cfit.ie>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

Thanks for the comprehensive reply Ian.

> Mark Pilgrim summarised the longdesc="" research in his controversial 
> article on the WHATWG blog:
>    http://blog.whatwg.org/the-longdesc-lottery

And I don't agree with his case, it uses spurious logic IMO. Although I
do agree that @longdesc is at this moment an inelegant solution that
could certainly be improved or even replaced by a better method. In
truth, I am more concerned with @summary.

>> FWIW @summary is a very, very practical and useful attribute for screen 
>> reader users
> Well, as noted above, I haven't yet done much research on summary="", it's 
> waiting with all the other table issues. However, with all due respect, 
> one of the most convincing pieces of research I have seen examining 
> summary="" -- and most excellent research it was -- was your own usability 
> study video, which showed a screen reader user dismiss summary="" out of 
> hand as being useless and annoying (paraphrasing from memory). 

I knew that my colleagues comment would come back to haunt me :-)

To put that comment into context, he is a power user and is experienced
in using his screen reader controls to interrogate data tables. @summary
is automatically read out as soon as the table receives focus. The great
thing is that the user doesn't have to do anything to trigger this
output, just give the table focus, and this is great for non power users
(of which there are many).

FWIW Stuarts comment about not liking @summary was his opinion and of
course he is completely entitled to it, however please don't let that
one (though admittedly rather compelling) piece of footage skew the
matter. As someone who as been auditing websites and facilitating user
tests for many years I have encountered more useful implementations of
@summary than not, and seen its implementation having a lot of benefits
for end users. The usability footage is an example of one screen reader
user who doesn't like or use a particular feature, and that is his
preference, but he is in all honesty the exception rather that the rule.

As an aside, when the camera was off and I explained to him how @summary
could be useful to other users Stuart agreed with me.

I can always put together more footage to build a more solid case :-)


Received on Tuesday, 5 February 2008 20:24:41 UTC

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