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RE: Fw: Disturbing trend in tables

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001 12:28:05 -0800
To: "'Fitzgerald, Jimmie'" <Jimmie.Fitzgerald@jbosc.ksc.nasa.gov>, "'wai-ig list'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000101c07b43$d72cb2f0$0100a8c0@aries>
On Wednesday, January 10, 2001 10:04 AM, Jimmie Fitzgerald wrote:

"As developers, we must work within the boundaries set by Jaws and other
tools like them since it is our product that must be accessible.  Theirs is
the working end of it all.  If Jaws cannot read P tags in TD's then we are
compelled to not place P tags in TD's.  We should never knowingly write our
code to a point where we know Jaws will fail."

Whoa! Slow down a bit, Jimmie. Let's not get carried away.

A P tag in a TD is a perfectly reasonable thing. True, the P tags in this
particular example seem to have been used for the wrong reason (what is the
point of specifying the height of the cell, then using a P to generate a
blank line?). In fact, it's pretty ugly code all the way around. But to say
that developers can't use something as important as a P tag inside a table
cell is a pretty severe limitation. There does come a time when the
manufacturers of accessibility products must be held accountable for their
failures. Besides, it will be a whole lot easier to convince one
manufacturer to fix a bug than to convince even a tiny portion of web
developers to stop using P elements in table cells. Let's pick our battles.

That said, I find it difficult to believe that the problem with Jaws is the
P tag. The web is filled with tables used for layout, and the vast majority
of them have multiple P tags in table cells. Why would this be the first we
heard of the problem?

My guess is that the use of the deprecated height attribute in concert with
the P is the problem. Has anyone tried the code without the height

What we *should* be doing, IMHO, is a) encouraging developers to use valid
XHTML (strict, if possible), b) encouraging user-agent makers to create
standards-compliant products, c) encouraging authoring software makers to
create products that generate standards-compliant code, and, perhaps most
importantly, d) encouraging users to upgrade their software to the latest,
most standard-compliant versions (and to demand standards-compliance). In
fact, we should be striving to make "standards-compliant" the equivalent of
"new and improved" -- something users value and look for when selecting
software. When the demand is there, the makers of software will respond.

Charles Munat,
Seattle, Washington
Received on Wednesday, 10 January 2001 15:26:34 UTC

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