RESOLUTION: Table access checkpoints for Desktop Graphical User Agents

Tables Issue Resolution for Desktop Graphical User Agents
The solution strategy for Desktop Graphical User Agents for making tables more
accessible is for user agents to implement the Document Object Model (DOM) and
provide an interface for assistive technology to access DOM.  Assistive
technology therefore would have direct access to table information for
alternaive rendering in speech, Braille or enlarged text.

Advantages to DOM approach
1. Assistive technology has direct access to element information and is not
dependent on any filtering of information that occurs during graphical
rendering of information.
2. W3C recommendations exist for specifying implementation and conformance 

Potential Disadvantage of DOM approach
1. Technique needs to gain acceptance by assistive technology developers.  So
far this has not been a problem since Henter-Joyce, Productivity Works and
participants are either already using DOM or are interested in its

Primary checkpoints for Desktop Graphical User Agents to implement
1. Implement DOM level 1
2. Expose DOM level 1 to assistive technologies

Checkpoint under consideration and refinement
1. Provide a means for the user to add accessibility functionality or change
the rendering of a document using the scripting capabilities of the user agent

Issues related to this checkpoint
1. Intent is provide some way for user to adjust rendering or add
for legacy assistive technology by using scripting tools already available in
many desktop graphical user agent technologies.
2. This is not a good checkpoint since it is too specific, but could be a
technique for a more general checkpoint.
3. This may be a good checkpoint if it was more general, but if it was more
general it could probably be defined as an asssitive technology.  It therefore
would not need to exist.
4. There is a DOM2 working group defining user side scripting capability, need
to coordinate with that group and see how this issue relates to the work of
that group.  

Checkpoints related to native table linearization by desktop graphical user
agents have been rejected based on the following information.

Potetential Advantage of Linearization Approach
1. Current screen reader users would have somewhat better access to table
information, but it is not a complete solution.  Users would still need to
for it to be implemented before they could benefit from the feature.

Problems with linearization approach
1. Linearization is only one of many techniques in solving the table access
problem, it doesn't meet the requirement for checkpoints stating a general
problem. It could be included as a technique in the technique document. 
2. It doesn't provide a path for innovation in solving table access issues and
will become outdated as technology improves.
3. Navigation and rendering are needed for a complete solution, which
complicates the desktop graphical browser issue.
4. None of the assistive technology vendors currently involved in the group
have requested the inclusion of this feature.  Their interest seems to be more
in the area of DOM or accessibility APIs for access to tables.
5. Mainstream browser developers have indicated that this feature is
technically difficult to implement.  It would take a long time for user agent
developers to implement and therefore maybe obsolete before users would be
to benefit from the technique.

If you have additional information that would change or extend this resoution
please send it to the list as soon as possible for consideration by the group.

Chair UA working group

Jon Gunderson, Ph.D., ATP
Coordinator of Assistive Communication and Information Technology
Division of Rehabilitation - Education Services
University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
1207 S. Oak Street
Champaign, IL 61820

Voice: 217-244-5870
Fax: 217-333-0248

Received on Wednesday, 27 January 1999 18:11:20 UTC