WCAG Priority Levels for accessibility-oriented TABLE eements and attributes

aloha, ian!

during the afternoon session of the User Agent Working Group meeting in austin
on 10 december 1999, you assured me that all of the accessibility attributes
and elements contained in HTML4 that are defined for tables are accorded P1 in
WCAG...  however, WCAG Checkpoints 5.5 and 5.6 (which deal with the summary
attribute for TABLE and the abbreviation attribute for TD and TH are only
accorded P3...  if non-visual access to tabular information (i.e. the ability
to search within a table, a nested table, a column or row; the ability to read
across rows and down columns; the ability to obtain extended contextual
information from a cell in a nested table, etc.) is left to AT interaction with
the DOM and relies upon proper usage of TABLE elements and attributes, then
_all_ of the semantic slash contextual markup defined for tables in HTML4 needs
to be accorded a P1 in WCAG, so that authors provide as much semantic and
contextual information as possible when they create a table...  this is the
only way that a user's adaptive technology will be able to use the DOM to
extract semantic information from the TABLE, so as to provide information which
will orient the user, thereby making it possible for that user to use whatever
navigational mechanisms his or her AT has provided for traversing tables...

moreover, both the summary and the abbr attributes are clearly identified in
the HTML4 TR as accessibility features

the HTML4 definition of the "summary" attribute

summary = text [CS] 
   This attribute provides a summary of the table's purpose 
   and structure for user agents rendering to non-visual 
   media such as speech and Braille. 

while the HTML4 definition of the "abbr" attribute

abbr = text [CS] 
   This attribute should be used to provide an abbreviated form 
   of the cell's content, and may be rendered by user agents 
   when appropriate in place of the cell's content. Abbreviated 
   names should be short since user agents may render them 
   repeatedly. For instance, speech synthesizers may render 
   the abbreviated headers relating to a particular cell before 
   rendering that cell's content.

thus, i would ask that ALL of the structural and contextual slash semantic
markup defined for TABLE in HTML4 be accorded a P1 in WCAG, for, as i was
minuted as stating at the austin face2face:

GR: I'm not opposed to using the DOM to walk the tree [in order to perform
navigation within tables]. The bottom line is authoring practices: misuse of
markup. Also, lack of implementation of axis/scope/caption/summary. If we push
everything off to the DOM, it's meaningless unless all the pieces are clearly
marked up and defined. I'm not asking for [the user agent to repair] poorly
marked up tables; however, for proper tables, the information needs to be made
available. If we say "Get everything from the DOM" we need to ensure that what
is needed is in the DOM in the first place.

He that lives on Hope, dies farting
     -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1763
Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
   WebMaster and Minister of Propaganda, VICUG NYC

Received on Thursday, 16 December 1999 01:00:59 UTC