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

Re: Nothing is really hidden

From: Shelley Powers <shelley.just@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 2009 15:00:41 -0500
Message-ID: <643cc0270907011300g548cd884ub8aac6f0c69eae84@mail.gmail.com>
To: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>
Cc: HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>
> I *think* that it's meant in the sense that these features are hidden
> to the person authoring the page. And to the people "QA-ing" the page.
> So for example the author of the page is not using AT tools, it
> doesn't help him/her, in the process of authoring the page, that AT
> tools exposes @summary.
> Similarly, if the person testing the page before it us published
> doesn't use AT tools, he or she will not see any wrong values in the
> @summary attribute.

True, there may be some tools that automatically fill in the summary
attribute with incorrect values, and the web page author is not
allowed to edit the field via the tool. But I would say that was a
problem with the tool, not necessarily @summary. As far as I know, the
value isn't hidden from either the author or QA, regardless. At a
minimum, they could check the value by looking at the page source.

>> And it's visible to anyone looking into page source, or
>> to the author, who adds it to the page, or via any number of other
>> tools and technologies.
> Indeed, if the author creates the page using a simple text editor then
> @summary is quite visible. This is not the case if the author is using
> a tool like adobe dreamweaver.

I haven't used Dreamweaver for years. Does it automatically fill in
the @summary attribute, and not provide a way to edit it? If so, and I
believe there are Adobe folks in this group, perhaps they can explain
why they do so. I wouldn't think that the tool should do this, unless
it works with the author to ensure it does it correctly.

> I think that it's very interesting to look at the differences between
> <img alt> and <table summary>. There are two important differences
> between them. First of all alt was a required attribute in HTML 4, so
> people validating their pages got an error if no @alt was included.
> Second, and I believe just as importantly, for a very long time (maybe
> still?) IE used to display the @alt attribute as a tooltip (if no
> @title attribute was present). That meant that the @alt attribute was
> somewhat visible to everyone. Even people without AT-tools. This lead
> to outdated or flat out wrong @alt values would be more likely to be
> detected pretty quickly and fixed.

You know, and this could only be me, but I don't use IE, except
briefly to test a page. I'm learning how to correctly add alt text
more from discussions on web sites, and my own increasing interest in
making my sites more accessible. My use of alt isn't perfect, but is
improving. The fact that it shows up on a tooltip has never made a

Perhaps others have felt that alt as tooltip in IE has helped them
improve their alt text.

> However, if there is a need, as I think has been claimed (correct me
> if I'm wrong), for a summary that is dedicated specifically to
> non-sighted people, and so showing it in any form to sighted people
> defeats its purpose, then things are different.

Jonas, I may have misunderstood you, but I'm fairly confident in
saying that that no one has suggested that sighted people are
prohibited from looking at the summary attribute. No one has suggested
that it not be visible in editing tools, or via source, or even via
the DOM. The difference between it and the contents of other elements
is that it isn't visually displayed by non-AT user agents, such as
Safari, Firefox, IE, and Opera.

I digress, though.  To return to the topic of this thread, even when
@summary isn't displayed in say, Opera, it isn't hidden, because it is
exposed via JAWS, or other AT device. That's more the point I'm trying
to make: summary isn't 'hidden', it's just targeted to a specific
subset of the user community.

> / Jonas
Received on Wednesday, 1 July 2009 20:01:16 UTC

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