Re: summary="" in HTML5 ISSUE-32

Incase it got lost in the shuffle, @summary must provide two types of  
information and two types of information which keeps its value in play:
1> @summary provides information about the structure of the table.
2> @summary provides narrative information for the purpose of  
comprehention of the data in the table.

If we lump all of this plus whatever else we decide to through at it  
into caption, the noise will drown this out.

As steve says, keeping @summary and making it visible is the best way  
to ensure continuity of information and will force authors to write  
better @summary="".

It cannot be stressed enough that just because something is used badly  
that it should not be thrown away.  otherwise, we are going to throw  
away a lot of the web.  Instead, we must find a way forward toward  
better use of what we have and enhancement of what we have through the  
development of new technologies which meet the needs of all.  As  
things currently stand, we have a devided situation.  those who care  
about accessibility authoring practices im ho are using html prior.   
Those who have other overriding concerns are increasingly using  
html5.  I'm not saying lest I be mistaken once again that the  
developpers of html5 and those who develop with it and push for its  
use are against accessibility, rather that in gutting the foundations  
of accessibility without adaquate fallback forces our hand.

On Feb 26, 2009, at 5:30 AM, Steven Faulkner wrote:

Hi Ian,

"That would be ideal, but unfortunately, pages on the Web that use
summary="" almost always use it incorrectly, with horrible values that
aren't helpful to anyone, "

This a statement of opinion not fact. Please do not continue to assert
this without providing a balanced study of summary use to back it up.
It also assumes that once available to "all users" authors would
continue to use what you assert to be "horrible values". Which does
not follow from your logic of better summaries being provided if they
are visible to all in whatever form.

PS: I have ccd PF as the subject is under active discussion and your
opinions are useful in relation to these discussions.


2009/2/26 Ian Hickson <>:
> On Wed, 25 Feb 2009, David Poehlman wrote:
>> could @summary not be taught to display to all?
> That would be ideal, but unfortunately, pages on the Web that use
> summary="" almost always use it incorrectly, with horrible values that
> aren't helpful to anyone, and thus we could never get browser  
> vendors to
> actually do this.
> Having whatever solution we _do_ use, e.g. <caption>, be visible to  
> all
> users from the beginning, ensures that all users get a better  
> experience
> because bad summary="" text won't be created.
> (Authors typically write bad summary="" text for the same reason they
> write bad alt="" text -- they don't understand what they are doing,  
> and
> have no way to test it. Visible text, they _do_ have a way to test.)
> Note that in HTML5, <caption> has been redefined to clearly include  
> in its
> scope all the material that in HTML4 was only appropriate in  
> summary="".
> --
> 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 -

Jonnie Appleseed
with his
Hands-On Technolog(eye)s
reducing technology's disabilities
one byte at a time

Received on Thursday, 26 February 2009 11:04:05 UTC