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Evaluating Web sites: Lynx and data tables

From: Chuck Letourneau <cpl@starlingweb.com>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 11:08:32 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-eo@w3.org
This change log entry is clipped from 
and refers to the use of LYNX

- start of clipping -

*       explain more about what to look for in code when reviewing data 
tables in lynx [20011030]
[from http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/wai-eo-editors/2001Oct/0009.html]
         [20020426] add a Note in #2, "don't use lynx on data tables." 
(provide a link to somewhere where it's defined)

- end of clipping -

I think that simply stating, "don't use lynx on data tables" is not the 
solution to this change request.

The "problem" with using Lynx to evaluate the accessibility of data tables 
arises because it does not (in the release I use) expose accessible markup 
that an author may have added (i.e. headers, id, scope, etc.) that 
(theoretically) make the table accessible to web agents that support such 

On the other hand, LYNX can still be used to show whether an author has 
designed a table to make sense when linearized.

Therefore I propose that something like the following note be added to both 
the preliminary and comprehensive sections (links to checkpoints could be 

- start of note -

NOTE: LYNX cannot be used to verify compliance with WCAG Priority 1 
checkpoints 5.1 and 5.2 .   To do so, use a Web agent or assistive tool 
that can interpret advanced table markup.  If such a tool is not available, 
manually inspect the source code to determine if advanced table markup has 
been used.  Then, when a suitable tool becomes available, revisit the 
tables to ensure that the markup is reporting properly.  LYNX can, however, 
be used to verify compliance with WCAG Priority 2 checkpoint 5.3.

- end of note -

Comment 1:  I am not certain that any tools fully (or consistently) support 
all advanced table mark up yet.  Thus it is doubtful whether even visual 
inspection of code is entirely useful since we are essentially guessing how 
the markup might be interpreted by some future tool.  This is an enduring 
problem for people trying to achieve Double-A.

Comment 2: All this begs another question: should we distinguish between 
how we recommend the use of LYNX in a preliminary review and in a 
comprehensive review?

Discussion would be appreciated.

Chuck Letourneau

Starling Access Services
"Access A World Of Possibility"
Received on Thursday, 30 May 2002 11:11:02 UTC

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