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Re: Initial approach to the reading order issue

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@access.digex.net>
Date: Wed, 1 Oct 1997 09:55:38 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <199710011355.JAA03371@access2.digex.net>
To: w3c-wai-hc@w3.org (HC team)
to follow up on what Jason White said:

>                                                      I would not support
> any strategy which condones the use of the HTML TABLE element for any
> purpose other than the representation of tables.  Although some authors
> misuse HTML tables, the WAI should not endorse such a practice by
> attempting to compensate for it in the markup. Control over the layout of
> documents is the province of style sheets, and will become even more so as
> CSS is more widely adopted.
> 

The use of the TABLE element as layout infrastructure delivers
genuine good as used in the Web today.  I think we have to credit
the widespread use it receives in this way as sufficient evidence
of this proposition.  To ask people to forego that good, which is
very widely enjoyed, we will have to make an airtight case that
it is reasonable and necessary for web authors to give up this
value.

Since I don't think we will find it is necessary, I doubt we can
convince the people who would have to sacrifice that it is
reasonable.

While I am disclosing opinions [which I claim can be changed by
suitable presentation of evidence] I perhaps should admit that I
am uncomfortable about any strategy that would make the
achievement of an accessible web contingent on the use of CSS.

CSS can certainly add value in alternative media browsing as it
does in pixel-grid screen browsing.  But basic usability must be
guaranteed without needing it.

To succeed we must make sure that an alternative-media browser
can present the content of an HTML document comprehensibly based
on the semantic connotations of the markup in the document and
the browser's knowledge of its user interface media, without
recourse to any stylesheet document.

This is the right scenario by which to establish the semantic
content requirements for HTML, in any case.  I expect that pages
with well-designed alternative-media stylesheets will be a
distinct minority for several years to come.  Hence there are
quantitative reasons to care that this scenario works well.

-- Al
Received on Wednesday, 1 October 1997 09:55:55 UTC

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