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Re: How to make complex data tables more accessible to screen-reader users

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Date: Sun, 05 Jul 2009 14:24:12 -0400
Message-ID: <4A50EFCC.1010606@intertwingly.net>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
CC: public-html@w3.org
Ian Hickson wrote:

> (Murray asked me to start a new thread about this today, outlining my 
> thoughts. Hopefully this will help.)

I would encourage you to review and update the following wiki page:


> I would welcome input from the chairs regarding how to resolve this issue.

I would encourage you to work with Joshue O Connor:


> Personally I don't think this is a difficult issue; it seems that there is 
> a clearly technically inferior solution being proposed (summary="") that 
> has been demonstrated to not actually solve the problem described at the 
> top of this e-mail. So to me, it seems that if we are basing HTML5's 
> development on purely technical grounds and arguments, and not listening 
> to the volume of the discourse, that the way forward is clear; we should 
> adopt one or more of the solutions proposed that do not suffer from the 
> same design problems as the summary="" attribute.
> If the chairs disagree, and believe that this is a non-technical issue, or 
> believe that technical issues should be resovled by vote, then I would 
> recommend having something like the following options:

I actually don't think there is a lot of disagreement over the technical 
  facts, at least with respect to facts that represent the current or 
past states.  What people mostly disagree on (or haven't yet decided on) 
is what will best work going forward.

>  ( ) I support the design of the HTML4 working group.
>      (Including the summary="" attribute on tables.)

I don't believe I've heard anybody say that that design is ideal, 
instead some have expressed the opinion that it it should remain in 
place until there is something better to replace it.

>  ( ) I support the design currently in Ian's HTML5 proposal.
>      (Suggesting that tables should be described in captions.)

There are people who see the same facts as you do and yet come to 
different conclusions as to whether overloading caption in this way is a 
  superior design.

>  ( ) I support the design currently in Rob's HTML5 proposal.
>      (Allowing summary="", but saying it doesn't work.)

Declaring Rob's approach as a "design" is probably a category error.  If 
I understand Rob correctly, he simply believes that having a conformance 
checker flag such markup as invalid is not likely to significantly 
change authoring behavior.

>  ( ) I have another proposal. Describe it below.

I don't have another proposal, merely a few observations.

First, I don't believe that anybody has put forward a design which 
enjoys consensus that covers the use case of a "holistic overview" which 
is explicitly intended as a "closed caption for the visual impaired".

Second, I don't believe that any of the above points of view are 
invalid, nor do I believe that any one of them enjoys an exclusive right 
to claim that that it alone is the result of a "data-driven process".

Third, I think the positions are mostly known at this point, and the 
impact to the document for any of the above can be estimated, planned, 
and accounted for.  I personally think that ARIA is of a higher priority 
at this time, and would hope that work could begin and proceed in 
parallel while this group is waiting for the ARIA group to respond to 
last call feedback.

- Sam Ruby
Received on Sunday, 5 July 2009 18:24:59 UTC

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