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Re: Use and abuse of @summary

From: Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 13:28:41 +0000
Message-ID: <55687cf80902190528v69aebc57iae667fb777e4ee6b@mail.gmail.com>
To: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Cc: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>, Janina Sajka <janina@rednote.net>, "W3C WAI Protocols & Formats" <w3c-wai-pf@w3.org>, wai-liaison@w3.org
Hi Leif,
thanks for the info.

There is indeed great variability in the tables and how "correctly" they are
marked up, when going the the 200 or so pages i sampled I found tables
marked up well and also images of tables with no text alternative.

The question at hand is whether the use of the summary "in the wild" helps
or hinders screen reader users.

At this point I have a very limited objective,  that is I am working to get
@summary into HTML5, not because i do not consider that improvements can be
made as you have been investigating, but think that @summary inclusion has
the most chance of getting in the HTMl5 spec of the options for data table


2009/2/19 Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>

> Hi Steve,
> Steven Faulkner 2009-02-18 11.20:
> After last weeks html working group teleconference I undertook a small
>> study
>> myself: summary attribute usage data (
>> http://www.paciellogroup.com/blog/misc/summary.html) I am not making any
>> wild claims about this study, but do suggest that from this sample, for
>> the
>> large majority of cases where @summary was used, it was used on data
>> tables
>> in way that may be useful to the users its intended for.
> Here are some comments about some of the tables you looked at:
> [1] The "Vegetarian Journal 2006" page has 21 summaries which all appear to
> be identical with the table caption (which isn't a <caption> but a <TD>
> cell.) Thus Jaws seem to read same text twice. A stronger link between
> <caption> and @summary could probably have helped the author to not make
> these mistakes. (The author apparently knew about [the usefulness of]
> @summary, but not about [the usefulness of] <caption>.)
> [2] The Wikipedia example in Philip Taylor's collection has a TOC <TABLE>
> with a @summary saying "Contents", which is ignored by Jaws. The Hn element
> (which also says "Contents") prevents the author from using <caption>. The
> problem here is, again, that <caption> isn't used. (And that table is used
> at all.)
> [3] In the "2007 Federal Tax Rate Schedules" sample, each @summary first
> identify the table by repating the text in the preceding H3 element, before
> explaining the table. If the headers had been inside a <caption>, then it
> had worked better for the screen reader users. So, again a problem related
> to <caption>. (The @summary text might have been useful for visual UA users
> as well.)
> [4] For the "Frequently Asked Questions Related to the Poverty Guidelines
> and Poverty" table, yes they misuse @summary for telling that it is a layout
> table. However, they also use <caption> in the data table on the same page.
> A hint that getting attention to <caption> is the right thing.
> [5] For the "NHLBI, Obesity Guidelines-Executive Summary-BMI Chart", they
> offers *a long* <caption> (276 chars) and a short @summary (45 chars). It
> appears as if Jaws here reads the summary first, before the caption.
> Probably because the summary is shorter than the caption? Heuristics at
> work. Well done.
> Summary: All this hints that authors have problems with the relationship
> between <caption> and @summary. Sometimes I also think they have problems
> with the very <caption> element: Getting it to look right etc. Placing
> headers inside it or not.
> Would it be a useful "cowpath" to permit H1-H6 elements inside <caption> so
> that <caption> could serve both as table title and document header? At
> leaste I think that this could provide for better captioning  in some cases.
> The New York Institute for Special Education, on their introduction pages
> about Jaws, allready recommend doing this: "... each table also has a
> caption that is a level two heading ..." [6]
> In conclusion: @summary is well supported by AT , its misuse at whatever
>> level (though I would say claims are overstated) has little effect upon
>> users.
>> Therefore I suggest that it would be useful to talk to the screen reader
>> users (its intended audience) that are on the W3C HTML working group and
>> the
>> W3C WAI groups and heed their advice on the utility of the @summary.
> Based on looks at the source code of your collection and also the tests
> with Jaws, this is probably right. But there seems to very much room for
> improvement, in order to get authors to get it right and thuse serve users
> better.
> I wish we could move on to discuss how to add table summaries and table
> captions correctly. Both table summaries and <caption> should be treated
> under the same subject: meta data of tables. I think is needed that one set
> up usecases, the same way that usecases for correctly used @alt have been
> set up. Whether @summary is included or not, the specification is lacking
> *anything* about how to use <caption>, except that it says that it
> represents a title.
> [1] http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2006issue2/vj2006issue2mealplans.htm
> [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A
> [3] http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/article/0,,id=164272,00.html
> [4] http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/figures-fed-reg.shtml
> [5] http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/bmi_tbl.htm
> [6] http://www.nyise.org/Surfing%20the%20Internet%20with%20JAWS/Tables.htm
> --
> leif halvard silli

with regards

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

www.paciellogroup.com | www.wat-c.org
Web Accessibility Toolbar -
Received on Thursday, 19 February 2009 13:29:26 UTC

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