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Re: Complex Table Examples

From: Patrick H. Lauke <redux@splintered.co.uk>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 23:23:52 +0100
Message-ID: <4648E178.6070506@splintered.co.uk>
To: www-html@w3.org

Ian Hickson wrote:

> The cost of _including_ headers="" in the spec is that if people misuse 
> it, the attribute becomes worthless, and we actually end up *hurting* 
> accessibility rather than helping it, by having the tools that are 
> intended to help accessibily actually result in *worse* performance when 
> they take these attributes into account.

Oh, for crying out loud...people might use them the wrong way, so we're 
safer by not including them and leaving the guesswork up to some magical 
heuristics built into the AT...

How many authors, today, still abuse paragraphs and pipe separator 
characters when really they should be using lists? And does that have 
any relevance as to whether or not paragraphs or lists should be 
modified or dropped from the spec?

As for resulting in *worse* performance: users are still in control of 
their AT. They can have the functionality on, but toggle it when they 
come across sites made by clueless users (in much the same way that, if 
I come across a silly site where the "right click" has been disabled via 
javascript in a vain attempt at stopping people from "stealing" images, 
which inhibits me from using gesture-based navigation in FF, i simply 
turn off javascript).

> A recent study I'm aware of that looked at actual use of the "summary" 
> attribute, for example, suggests that "summary" is almost universally 
> abused:
>    http://canvex.lazyilluminati.com/misc/summary.html

And that is representative enough?

> The same kind of study for headers="" would be useful. In particular, it 
> would be extremely useful to see if, in a sample of several thousand or 
> million pages,

Ok, hands up: who here has the time to mount a research project of this 
magnitude? To defend *keeping* something in the spec that works *today*, 
and reportedly is the best solution with current levels of AT as per 

If that is the rigour of evidence required, I demand to see it for 
*every* single element/attribute that differs between HTML 4.1 and 5.

Patrick H. Lauke
re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
[latin : re-, re- + dux, leader; see duke.]
www.splintered.co.uk | www.photographia.co.uk
Co-lead, Web Standards Project (WaSP) Accessibility Task Force
Take it to the streets ... join the WaSP Street Team
Received on Monday, 14 May 2007 22:23:59 UTC

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