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Re: How Much Of A Problem Are Tables Used for Design?

From: Kelly Ford <kford@teleport.com>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 05:12:44 -0800 (PST)
To: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.10.9911180447500.11962-100000@user2.teleport.com>
Hello All,

Well I certainly hope my comments don't land me on the "enemy" site of
this discussion.  I further won't hold myself out as an expert on HTML,
although I feel I have a good working knowledge of it.  Finally my
comments are again not to say I don't value the other opinions on this

In reviewing the content accessibility guidelines, and techniques
document, I find a couple references to tables used to generate layout
effects.  As solutions to the use of this HTML trick, the techniques
document suggests use of style sheets or to be sure that the table can be
read in a linear fashion.  Style sheets, from my understanding of where
that technology is, have the same problems that Gregory pointed out about
outdated technology.  The other alternative presented in the techniques
document is to ensure that tables can be read in a linear fashion.  As I
mentioned here the other day I think the vast majority of tables I've
encountered used for layout do this by default.  Maybe it is a quirk or an
ad hoc process but it does work.

I'm not saying tables used for layout don't deserve some discussion
because they do.  Clearly the issue is listed as a priority 2 issue in the

My original question still remains in my mind though and that is how much
of a problem are tables used for layout when it comes to accessibility?
In the circles I move in deaching web access and using it myself they
haven't been a significant barrier.  Again, as I said earlier, I don't
think no ttroubles for Kelly equals accessible.  I make it a point to use
older technology almost daily for at least part of my web browsing because
I do realize that economic circumstance allows me to have some of the best
access equipment around.

But I do believe it is unrealistic to go around asking web sites not to
use tables for layout.  When a problem site is encountered education and
alternatives can and should be suggested.  I just don't think it is at the
top of the list of problems when it comes to web accessibility.


P.S. For those who have access to JFW 3.31 and Word 97 or 2000, you might
try an interesting experiment.  Open web sites in Microsoft Word by
entering the full URL in the open file dialog and then using JFW's table
identification and navigation features to browse the web.  You'll be
surprised, at least I was, at just how common the table elements are used.
For web sites that are displaying tabular data, the added access you have
is on a par with that found in Home Page Reader's table navigation mode.
I'm by no means saying you should use Word as your web browser but if you
want to study a particular table in detail it is an alternative.
Received on Thursday, 18 November 1999 08:12:55 UTC

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