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Re: Summary of Thursday's IRC conversation about @summary

From: Shelley Powers <shelleyp@burningbird.net>
Date: Fri, 05 Jun 2009 16:42:33 -0500
Message-ID: <4A299149.5030406@burningbird.net>
To: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>
CC: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>, public-html@w3.org
Jonas Sicking wrote:
> On Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 12:22 PM, John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu> wrote:
>> Shelley Powers wrote:
>>> The other concern expressed in the IRC, rather emphatically, too, if one
>>> looks at the exclamation points, is the fact that we don't see
>>> widespread use of @summary after ten years! Half the web! (Those are
>>> more or less direct quotes from the discussion.)
>>> Of course, I'm not an accessibility expert, just an interested
>>> bystander, but I've noticed that--and this is unfortunate--changes in
>>> general behavior in order to provide support for a minority, in this
>>> case those with physical challenges, tends to happy very, very slowly.
>> It is also important to note that the PF-WG specifically wrote:
>> *       We reject the argument that summary should be removed from the
>> *       specification because it is not implemented on most web sites. We
>> note
>> *       that accessibility is poorly supported on most web sites. The
>> wider
>> *       web is not an example of good practice.
>> Time and time again, it appears that the HTML WG fail to embrace this
>> truism.
> Can you point to where someone made this argument?

I'm not speaking as an accessibility expert, but I do know the web, 
quite well.

In the IRC discussion yesterday, several references were made to it not 
being "web scale". We assume by "web scale" that it must appear in some 
portion of the web. I don't know, I'm not sure what "web scale" is.

> The argument that I hear most often is that on the pages where
> @summary *is* used, it has not been used correctly. For example, as I
> understood it, that was the argument made in [1].
> / Jonas

But then, one could say we need to eliminate table then, because I've 
never seen anything used more inappropriately than table. It's ironic, 
but among the examples that Philip's program exposed were sites using 
tables for layout, only.

Let's face it, the web is inherently a messy place. Clean up could occur 
through surgical procedures that cut out web elements used incorrectly, 
but then we'd probably lose a good third of the web doing so. A better 
approach, and one that has worked so well with getting people to 
gradually move to CSS and away from tables as layout is education. 
Teach, help encourage, facilitate good learning. And ensure that 
Wordpress and Drupal folks use the elements appropriately.

What's important is taking the information that Philip provided, which 
was very helpful, discovering the uses of @summary and then providing 
more education.

Like I said, I'm not an accessibility person. But as a person who has 
worked with the web 15 years, I have a hard time understanding the level 
of angst associated with this one particular attribute. I don't mean 
that in an offensive manner -- I just don't understand this drive for 
some form of perfection with something that is fairly obvious will take 
time and education before decent propagation and good usage is met.

I asked in the IRC, what are alternatives, and what was a little 
uncomfortable was that the folks who really want this attribute gone, 
really have no alternative solution in mind. Well, other than smoosh it 
into caption, which is bad mistake, and a bad design decision (you don't 
want to start redefining the context and meaning of existing elements). 
There was talk about ARIA, but no one seemed willing to step up and 
describe how this would be a viable alternative.

> [1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Jun/0173.html

Received on Friday, 5 June 2009 21:43:23 UTC

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