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RE: Complex table with headings (h3, h4 etc.) to group data rows

From: Sailesh Panchang <spanchang02@yahoo.com>
Date: Tue, 8 Oct 2013 18:08:02 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <1381280882.33971.YahooMailBasic@web125006.mail.ne1.yahoo.com>
To: "w3c-wai-gl@w3.org" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Dear Andrew and WCAG-WG,

I believe I failed to draw your attention to a critical  point with respect to the two tables on the  sample page [1]:
Both tables the first one that uses headers-id method and the second that uses the h3 method have a summary attribute that explains the table’s structure for a VI user who depends on AT.
Seldom will a blind user navigate the table blindly (<grin>!) without attempting to first comprehend the table’s structure. So he is not likely to hit JAWS+T on every cell as he goes through the table.
Secondly, this is more of a remediation technique when for one reason or another there is reluctance to use the headers-id method.  
Surely when a page and the data tables on it are designed  with accessibility markup from the ground up, it may not be difficult to build headers-id markup and one might get some support from their authoring tools / frameworks etc. But often during remediation work this may not be possible given time and resource constraints and fear that it will break something else.
The draft technique never suggested this as a   replacement  for the headers-id method.

Hopefully incorporating  two  points might provide the level of comfort you are seeking: 
i. the summary attribute  that explains the table’s structure should draw user’s attention to use of headings to group data rows
ii. this is suggested as a remediation technique in situations where headers-id method cannot be employed.  
(The ‘legacy’ design / content was used as a justification for an ARIA technique recently). 

Surely all complex tables can be broken into simpler tables but that is seldom possible in real life.
And as a user, I’d rather have a complex table with the alternative markup that makes it accessible than no accessibility markup on grounds of undue burden.  

Thanks for your time and pardon my persistence.

[1] http://mars.dequecloud.com/demo/Census_2013.htm

On Tue, 10/8/13, Andrew Kirkpatrick <akirkpat@adobe.com> wrote:

 Subject: RE: Complex table with headings (h3, h4 etc.) to group data rows
 To: "Sailesh Panchang" <spanchang02@yahoo.com>, "w3c-wai-gl@w3.org" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
 Date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 2:07 PM
 My issue with this is that there is nothing in the spec that
 says that headings (e.g. h2) should be used in this way, and
 the user agent support for identifying table cells isn't
 there yet.  When I use JAWS on your table and jump to
 the last cell or move to an arbitrary cell in the table and
 request the header information to establish the context it
 only reads headers that are defined with the standard table
 markup.  A user wouldn't know when or if there were
 headings marked up in this alternative way, so to be certain
 a user would need to hit JAWS+T every time they thought that
 there might be an additional heading defined in this
 non-standard way.  I don't see this as very workable
 for end users, even if it has the potential to save some
 developer time.
 Andrew Kirkpatrick
 Group Product Manager, Accessibility
 Adobe Systems 
 -----Original Message-----
 From: Sailesh Panchang [mailto:spanchang02@yahoo.com]
 Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2013 1:08 PM
 To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
 Subject: Complex table with headings (h3, h4 etc.) to group
 data rows
 Refer to table#2 on this page:
 Well if one is arrowing down a column # 2or subsequent
 column, the screen reader does announce the group header
 because it is a TH cell./ (this is in response to Josh's
 question during the call).
 Use of h<n> tags in a data table is valid code, it
 exposes structure of the grouping within the table, allows
 users to jump to the section of interest and then navigate
 the table and have only row header  to its left and
 column headers announced. This reduces verbosity. Yet one
 can press JAWS+T and have nearest heading announced ... a
 technique that is accepted for determining context of a
 link. So one can use the same technique to understand 
 context in terms of group headers. (Only JAWS  supports
 H80) Also one navigates a page and determines structure by
 multiple methods: landmarks, headings, tables, lists, forms
 etc. and not just heading navigation. So if this method is
 used to code complex tables, users will be able to figure
 that out. 
 Also a single level of headings (styled as needed) 
 should be used in the table ... the method may not be
 appropriate if one needs to use more than one level of
 It is a non "standard" method that is valid code and AT
 I believe it is an alternative technique to headers-id when
 one chooses not to use headers-id for whatever reason.
 Thanks and regards,
 Sailesh Panchang
Received on Wednesday, 9 October 2013 01:08:31 UTC

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