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Re: does TH scope go along with TH span?


From: Simius Puer
Date: Nov 23, 2009 4:40PM

Just to add to that - the explanation of the "summary" attribute on that
link is a little incorrect in my opinion.

The W3C says "This attribute provides a summary of the table's purpose and
structure for user agents rendering to non-visual media such as speech and
Braille" [source:
http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/struct/tables.html#adef-summary" ...I know this
is the HTML4 spec but I couldn't locate any further info in the XHTML spec]

The intention is *not* to summarise the content, but to very quickly define
the purpose of the table (try not to duplicate anything you are going to put
in the "caption" attribute). A clear description of the table layout is
more useful to non-sighted users as it helps to form a mental visualisation
of it's layout. e.g. "Table uses a single header row and column" or variants

Example given by the W3C: <table summary="This table charts the number of
cups of coffee consumed by each senator, the type of coffee (decaf or
regular), and whether taken with sugar."> As you can see, this defines the
tables purpose but makes *no *attempt to summarise the data itself. It also
fails to give any idea of the structure so it's not the best example they
could have given.

Briefly put, the "summary" attribute is not intended (at least in the HTML
specification) as a "longdesc" for tables.

I'd be very interested to hear what users of screen readers actually think
of this. Should developers go by the letter of the spec or are more
in-depth summaries required? Perhaps we should be looking to add these
descriptions via another method so the user has a choice or reading the
table or reading someones attempt at summarising the data? My gut feeling
is that I have heard "we want the same experience as visual users" a lot and
it sticks. Plus that matches with the original intention of the attribute.