W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > February 2009

Re: summary="" in HTML5 ISSUE-32

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 22:54:15 +0000 (UTC)
To: Matt Morgan-May <mattmay@adobe.com>
Cc: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>, Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>, David Poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>, "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>, Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>, James Graham <jgraham@opera.com>, Joshue O Connor <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>, Steve Axthelm <steveax@pobox.com>, Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, Simon Pieters <simonp@opera.com>, HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>, "wai-xtech@w3.org" <wai-xtech@w3.org>, "wai-liaison@w3.org" <wai-liaison@w3.org>, "janina@rednote.net" <janina@rednote.net>, Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>, W3C WAI Protocols & Formats <w3c-wai-pf@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0902262246580.8214@hixie.dreamhostps.com>
On Thu, 26 Feb 2009, Matt Morgan-May wrote:
> Two points:
> 1) Then @alt should also be presented visually, no? From the research 
> I've seen, there's more good @alt content than good @summary content, so 
> it'd make more sense to present that visually.

The point of alt="" text is to replace images, not augment them, whereas 
summary="", or <caption> in HTML5, augments tables, it doesn't replace 

Note also that HTML5 does in fact expect visual browsers to replace <img> 
elements with their alt="" text in the rendering when the image is broken.

So I believe we are being consistent here.

> No, I'm really not. I don't see how my statement would be parsed that 
> way. I mean to point out a logical fallacy, to wit: removing a feature 
> intended for non-visual users somehow aids accessibility. It does not 
> follow.

We're not just removing it, we're replacing it with something that helps 
more users (<caption>).

> 1) @summary is content that is restricted non-visual users, and our 
> design principles dictate that it should be available to all users.
> 2) @summary is alternate content for visual information, and our design 
> principles dictate that it should be presented to non-visual users.

I don't agree with either of these statements. My position is just that 
there is data showing that summary="" as designed both fails to help 
disabled users (by being mostly bad data when used) and hurts non-disabled 
users (by causing there to be information hidden from them when the 
attribute _is_ used in a way that helps disabled users). Thus, if our goal 
is to improve accessibility, we need to do _something_ to improve matters.

The current proposal is to use <caption> instead of summary="", which 
should both improve the quality of the accessibility aids (since authors 
will _see_ their bad summaries and remove them if they're bad) and the 
make them universally accessible (since <caption> is media-independent).

The other proposal, namely to show summary="" to everyone, doesn't work 
because browser vendors wouldn't agree to showing the current values, 
since they are so widely found to be ugly.

> When @summary was removed, accessibility to non-visual users was 
> reduced.

I believe that is inaccurate.

Existing pages with summary="" aren't affected. AT tools are still 
expected to support the summary="" attribute, and validators are expected 
to not report the presence of summary="" as a serious problem.

New pages that use <caption> wouldn't be any less accessible either.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Thursday, 26 February 2009 22:54:57 UTC

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