Re: summary attribute compromise proposal

hi ian
>Some provide text that is so useless that ATs have, I am told, derived
heuristics to avoid exposing
>their users to them.

Who has told you this? This argument is incorrect, it is a twisting of the
reason why summaries are ignored on layout tables. AT have incorporated
algoritms to ignore layout tables so that the presence of the layout tables
and cells are not announced, a side effect is that all other information
that can be associated with data tables such as summary is not announced.

2009/8/5 Ian Hickson <>

> On Tue, 4 Aug 2009, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
> >
> > Here is my proposal: [...]
> >
> > 2) HTML5 will not make any flat direct statements that summary=""
> > shouldn't or can't be used.
> I think we need to discourage use of summary="" to improve the overall
> accessibility of the Web.
> In practice, on the rare occasions that the attribute is used at all, it
> is used poorly by amateurs and experts alike. Some provide text that is so
> useless that ATs have, I am told, derived heuristics to avoid exposing
> their users to them. Others provide text that is useful to all readers,
> not just the visually impaired. The rare cases of summary="" attributes
> that walk the fine line between being hypothetically useful to AT users
> and being superfluous for anyone else are in almost all cases redundant
> with a quick scan of the table using regular table navigation aids.
> Furthermore, at least some AT users in practice explicitly disable support
> for the attribute, leaving the amount of effort that authors spend on
> summary="" attributes to be completely disproportional to the actual gains
> experienced by users, such that the authors' time could be better spent
> improving accessibility in ways that result in significantly better return
> on investment.
> By continuing to encourage summary="", therefore, we are doing a
> disservice to the AT user community.
> I've presented more elaborate reasoning and data to support the above
> position here:
> In every respect other than the various places in the proposal where it is
> suggested that we should not disparage summary="", I'm fine with it.
> --
> Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
>       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
> Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

with regards

Steve Faulkner
Technical Director - TPG Europe
Director - Web Accessibility Tools Consortium |
Web Accessibility Toolbar -

Received on Wednesday, 5 August 2009 08:31:41 UTC