Re: summary attribute compromise proposal

On Tue, Aug 4, 2009 at 1:03 PM, Maciej Stachowiak<> wrote:
> I believe there are two different value systems in conflict in the summary
> dicussion:
> A) HTML5 should guide authors toward choices that will result in the best
> accessibility outcomes, based on reasoning from the best evidence we have
> available. Argument that are not outcome-driven or evidence-based are seen
> as irrelevant, from this point of view.
> B) If HTML5 provides advisory guidance on how to use HTML constructs to make
> accessible documents, it should not directly contradict other W3C guidance
> on accessibility. It's ok, from this point of view, to expand on guidance,
> but direct contradiction is seen as giving an inconsistent message.
> I don't think we can always reconcile these two value systems. Sometimes
> there is no solution that will meet both goals.
> In this case, I believe a solution may be possible which can satisfy
> everyone. Here is my proposal:
> 1) HTML5 will continue to list and advise use of new techniques that can be
> alternatives to summary="".
> 2) HTML5 will not make any flat direct statements that summary="" shouldn't
> or can't be used. Instead, it will say that authors SHOULD use one of the
> other techniques when possible and appropriate. In particular, it should
> advise authors to consider:
>     (a) Is a particular piece of information useful to the blind or visually
> impaired? -- If not, it shouldn't be included in summary. Authors must not
> put useless text in summary to give a pro forma appearance of accessibility.
>     (b) Is a particular piece of information useful in a visual rendering as
> well? For example, is it useful to people of normal ability, or to other
> handicap groups, such as the cognitively disabled? -- If so, the information
> should be included in a way that is available to everyone, such as
> <caption>. If the information would be potentially useful, but possibly
> distracting, it can be made available to everyone but hidden by default, for
> example using <details>. For example, describing the conclusions of the data
> in a table is useful to everyone. Explaining how to read the table, if not
> obvious from the headers alone, is useful to everyone. Describing the
> structure of the table, if it is easy to grasp visually, may not be useful
> to everyone.
> In other words, rather than focusing on what authors shouldn't do, the spec
> will focus on what they should do instead. I believe this achieves the goal
> of promoting better accessibility outcomes, without directly contradicting
> WCAG2.
> 3) HTML5 will continue to include a mandatory warning for summary="". The
> purpose is not to completely prevent authors from using summary="", but
> rather to bring alternatives to their attention, as described above.
> 4) The goal of HTML5 in this case is to promote good accessibility outcomes
> based on evidence. Telling someone that the technique they are using is dumb
> or wrong, even by implication, is not necessary to serve this goal,
> providing relevant information is what serves the goal. Thus, the spec will
> be changed to avoid disparaging summary in unnecessary ways. For example,
> describing summary="" only in the "obsolete features" section and not in the
> "table" section gives the appearance of disparagement. There may not be an
> evidence-based reason to stop doing this, but I don't see an evidence-based
> reason to continue doing it, either. So, why needlessly give offense if the
> goal can be served either way?
> 5) HTML WG will propose a WCAG2 Techniques update to the appropriate working
> group of WAI (is it PFWG or WCAG WG?) to better reflect HTML5 features for
> describing tables. I can draft a message to communicate this, but I'd like
> to request:
>    (a) John Foliot as a co-signer (assuming he agrees with the language),
> since he said he'd support an effort to update WCAG2, and I'd like to make
> clear that this is a coordination effort, not an attempt to pick a fight.
>    (b) I'd like to ask for some official blessing from the HTML WG for this
> message, since WAI apparently takes official input from Working Groups more
> seriously than input from individuals.
> I'd particularly like to hear from John Foliot and Ian Hickson whether this
> would be a satisfactory outcome.
> Regards,
> Maciej

All due respect to John and Ian, but I would object to your compromise.


Received on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 19:02:53 UTC