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Re: Using Tables


From: Sailesh Panchang
Date: Feb 23, 2012 1:30PM

Two opinions here:
1. http://www.456bereastreet.com/archive/200906/help_screen_reader_users_by_giving_data_tables_a_summary/
2. http://juicystudio.com/article/purpose-of-the-summary-attribute.php

On 2/15/12, Sailesh Panchang < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> Jared,
> I am not trying to compare an inaccessible form control and an
> inaccessible complex table and grade which one is more of a barrier. I
> am pointing to _invisible text_ (off-screen) being considered alright
> as a solution for helping one group of users (vision impaired) and
> being frowned upon when _invisible text_ as a summary attribute is
> used to mitigate the challenges posed by another barrier.
> The email I sent yesterday evening has 2 good examples.
> And when you say you found only one or two good examples in a batch
> you reviewed, you are only reinforcing the point I have been making my
> emails all the time: summary is needed only for really complex tables
> as I explained in my first email. An again as I said before, one needs
> to be aware of how the summary is used and the specific challenges
> posed by a particular table before one can write a good summary. It is
> a thoughtful process and needs to be drafted in a manner that serves
> the end user.
> Of course the table has to be marked up properly so data cells and
> header cells are properly associated. But the summary helps one get
> oriented to the complexity of the table's structure and adopt
> appropriate navigation methods. And my first email yesterday explains
> why complex tables cannot be wished away.
> You are repeating what I said with great illustrations: the summary is
> used excessively and mostly incorrectly making it a nuisance at most
> times.
> Tim- by saying that, I am not saying the summary should be dropped but
> I am arguing for its retention and proper usage. I am on your side.
> Sailesh Panchang
> On 2/15/12, Jared Smith < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
>> On Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 8:06 AM, Sailesh Panchang wrote:
>>> In effect invisible text rendered by off-screen technique is not
>>> much different from invisible text rendered by an HTML attribute to
>>> fix an accessibility barrier.
>> It is different. For the most part, a form control is inaccessible
>> without a label whether it's on-screen or off-screen. A complex table
>> on the other hand, will still be generally inaccessible with or
>> without the summary. If the actual problem is resolved (the complexity
>> of the table), the summary would no longer be necessary.
>>> Why does one not say throw off the off-screen technique out of the
>>> window?
>> Because the off-screen technique actually resolves the inaccessibility
>> of page elements. In nearly all cases, the summary attribute (when
>> actually necessary) simply conflates a complex table with a verbose
>> description of that complexity.
>>> misuse of, or incorrect / inconsistent
>>> application of accessibility technique itself becomes a barrier for
>>> users of Web content.
>> Absolutely! Which brings me to the list of examples that Joshue
>> provided. Of the dozens of examples, I found one (yes, only one)
>> summary that I thought was actually useful. Nearly all of the
>> summaries simply provided one or more of the following:
>> - a repetition of the visible caption or other visual text.
>> - a repetition of the table headers.
>> - a description of the number of rows and columns in the table.
>> All of this information is readily available to screen readers by
>> simply navigating to or within the table. Many of the summaries
>> provided irrelevant and verbose information that was not necessary or
>> that was already provided visually. If these are the best examples we
>> can come up with, it simply reinforces my thinking that table summary
>> really never is used correctly and should probably just go away.
>> Jared