WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: complex layout tables


From: Lucy Greco
Date: Jan 29, 2014 3:27PM

I don't like the turn this message took. It is not only screen readers
that have problems with lay out tables it's just easy to point at us. For
get access. Lay out tables don't translate well to mobile or other screen
types at all. So its pass access. I am getting the idea that someone told
you should stop using lay out tables and you came here to get a reason to
not stop doing so well over all lay out tables just don't work access or

Lucia Greco
Web Access Analyst
IST-Campus Technology Services
University of California, Berkeley
(510) 289-6008 skype: lucia1-greco

-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Olaf Drümmer
Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 11:44 AM
To: <EMAIL REMOVED> ; WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] complex layout tables

Hi Nathalie,

On 29 Jan 2014, at 11:03, Nathalie Sequeira < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:

> But in 2014, we can build sites with slim, lightweight HTML styled by
CSS - that ALL browsers understand, and insisting on using table layouts
IMHO is a sign of ignorance and laziness to learn state-of-the-art
(goodness, theyre not even that, just plain middle of the road actually!)
> Today, there is NO reason to be using a technique that bloats page size,
is difficult to maintain, potentially creates problems for a whole segment
of users and is not at all in tune with the reality of an increasing
variety of devices being used to access the web.
> Bottom line: it is up to webpage-creators to kick their antiquated
habits. Enough excuses have been made and it really is time to change.

I have to say that I find the tone of your message inappropriate for this

terms like 'ignorance', 'laziness', 'kick antiquated habits' and so forth
probably are just a sign that you had a bad morning but still do not
belong in discussions like this one.

So please let's get back to a fair discussion about reality, without
denigrating others.

I sometimes have the impression that many on this list believe web sites
and web content are created exclusively by selected web site professionals
and web content creation professionals. I do not think this takes into
account some massive trends that have occurred in the last years. The
biggest trend here is that web systems have been democratised. Just look
at systems based on the likes of WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Typo3 and so
forth. More often than not the person entering content is **not at all**
an expert on web site technology, accessibility or anything like that.
They use what they have, and they try to get the job of entering content
done in their best possible way. They will hardly ever be in a position to
do anything about the CSS for that site, nor will the be allowed near the
JavaScript stuff. So if these people wish to present and arrange content
in an easy to digest manner, and because they can't use CSS for number of
reasons, they might find themselves juggli
ng around with a table once in a while.

Now there are at least the following ways you could approach this:
- you could shout at these people, call them lazy, ignorant, or whatever
is your favourite swearword; my guess is you won't achieve much
- you could be nice and try to convince people that they should do
something about it, like: do not use tables, take a training course on
CSS, stay at the office until the sysadmin leaves, and hack the web
system, etc.; my estimate: good luck
- you try to find some easy, cost effective, convincing, good enough
approach (easy to developer/implement, and easy to use) to "fix the
system"; such an approach could be to come up with a rule like "any table
that does not have TH cells is a layout table", and ask AT developers to
take that (and the current writing mode) into account when presenting the
table (can we please stop to always only refer to screen readers when it
comes to AT? blind people are a relatively small portion of those
suffering from one or the other disability)?

I think we should do some math once in a while and figure how expensive
an approach is:
- how expensive is it to convince/train each and every content creator in
the world? What is the number of content creators? What is the 'cost' to
reach out to one of them, and to change the way they "do content"?
- how expensive is it to change systems (mostly software in this context)?
How many companies/developers exist that develop a relevant tool or
technology? How expensive is it to reach out to one of them and convince