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

Re: summary="" in HTML5 ISSUE-32

From: Matt Morgan-May <mattmay@adobe.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 15:29:38 -0800
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
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: <C5CC65E2.19D81%mattmay@adobe.com>
On 2/26/09 2:54 PM, "Ian Hickson" <ian@hixie.ch> wrote:
> 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

In the case of someone with a cognitive disability, they may want to see
both. And anyway, the purpose of @alt is not to "replace" an image, since
that can't be done. It's to provide a textual alternative--just like

> So I believe we are being consistent here.

I disagree.

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

...which fewer authors will use, since it forces a visual representation. No
designer is going to redesign their navigation tables so that the caption of
"navigation" shows through. (And yes, I know there's a <nav> element for
that, but screen-reader users in table mode are still going to want to know
that a given table contains navigation info.)

>> 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)

I looked at the data posted most recently, and I came to a different
conclusion. For one thing, summary="(null|whitespace)" is what we've used to
indicate layout tables for years. And as has been mentioned today, the
biggest real issue is the mistaken practice of stating "layout" or "design",
and assistive technology across the board has heuristics to filter that out.
You're basing your decision on a problem that in practice does not exist.

> 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).

...except that to date, the content of the attribute is explicitly for the
benefit of non-visual users. Any analysis of the existing data in coming to
this conclusion is invalid, since visual users were never intended to
receive it.

> Thus, if our goal
> is to improve accessibility, we need to do _something_ to improve matters.

Fine. So, then, does it not concern you just a little that, to a person, the
people whose expertise is in accessibility disagree strongly with your

> 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).

That's interesting as a thought experiment, but not as a format

> Existing pages with summary="" aren't affected. AT tools are still
> expected to support the summary="" attribute

Irrelevant. You don't get credit for not actively breaking HTML 4.01.

> and validators are expected
> to not report the presence of summary="" as a serious problem.

But it's still invalid markup. It's a distinction without a difference.

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

Where's the proof of that?

Received on Thursday, 26 February 2009 23:31:49 UTC

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