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Re: Use of Axis in data-table for categorizing cells

From: Wendy A Chisholm <wendy@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 07 Jan 2004 17:29:15 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: "Sailesh Panchang" <sailesh.panchang@deque.com>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Cc: asgilman@iamdigex.net


Interesting questions. I think your questions are best directed to the 
Protocols and Formats Working Group (PFWG) [1].  I'm ccing Al on my response.

Related tidbits:
- A good discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of axis is section 4.4 of 
"Techniques for Accessible HTML Tables" by Stephen Ferg (2002). [2]
- Since axis is not supported, I can't find a good, real-world example of 
an axis attribute that has more than one value.
- Looking at the XHTML 2.0 drafts and the HTML WG issues list, there 
doesn't seem to be any indication of clarifying the axis attribute.


[1] <http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/>
[2] <http://www.ferg.org/section508/accessible_tables.html#contents_item_4.4>

At 03:57 PM 1/7/2004, Sailesh Panchang wrote:
>As I understand, it makes sense to associate a single concept with a 
>particular table header (th) cell  using the id and axis  for the cell. 
>While reading the specs for the axis attribute (HTML  4.01 specs)I was 
>perplexed by the statement:
>"The value of this attribute is a comma-separated list of category names."
>  How is it possible to associate more than one concept with a  single 
> cell with one id attribute? See the given example for instance:
>  <TH id="a2" axis="expenses">Meals</TH>
>So any data cell that refers to  this cell in its headers attribute 
>(headers=a2") will categorize this data cell as Meals. One cannot  use the 
>same a2  reference for another data cell and expect it to be related 
>to  anything other than meals. Whatever is enclosed within quotes 
>following axis= is interpreted as a single concept  even if two words are 
>separated by a comma.
>1. So is this  an error in the specs?
>2. The specs for  headers attribute (in the HTML specs) say that multiple 
>cell-names (referencing id values of table header cells) should be 
>separated by  a space.  Assistive technologies (like JAWS and HPR) have in 
>fact implemented this and work correctly when a space is used as a 
>separator.... and a comma separator does not   produce expected results. 
>The question is: mostly programmers are used to comma as a separator and 
>specifying a space as the legal separator makes the specs  inconsistent. 
>(For axis it says comma is the separator.) Additionally, there is a 
>problem ifthe id value itself contains a space like in
>id="office stationery".
>Sailesh Panchang
>Senior Accessibility Engineer
>Deque Systems,11180  Sunrise Valley Drive,
>4th Floor, Reston VA 20191
>Tel: 703-225-0380 Extension 105
>E-mail: <mailto:sailesh.panchang@deque.com>sailesh.panchang@deque.com
>Fax: 703-225-0387
>* Look up <<http://www.deque.com>http://www.deque.com> *

wendy a chisholm
world wide web consortium
web accessibility initiative
Received on Wednesday, 7 January 2004 17:29:48 UTC

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