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Thread: Use of <summary> with tables

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From: Alan Zaitchik
Date: Wed, Dec 02 2015 1:46PM
Subject: Use of <summary> with tables
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I am somewhat confused. I originally thought that since <summary> is obsoleted in HTML5 I should use an alternative, e.g. any of those discussed at http://www.w3.org/WAI/tutorials/tables/caption-summary/. But then I saw a summary of tests reported at http://www.davidmacd.com/test/details.html and it leads me to think that <summary> is still better than the alternatives as far as screen reader users are concerned. (In our application I am concerned with off-screen tables accessed only by screen readers.)
Any advice?
A

From: Birkir R. Gunnarsson
Date: Wed, Dec 02 2015 1:53PM
Subject: Re: Use of <summary> with tables
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Hi
You mean the summary attribute, not a summary tag, correct?
<table summary="this table has x columns, y rows etc. etc.">
...
</table>
Even if no longer allowed under html5, it is allowed by older coding
standards and is pretty well supported by assistive technologies.
The problem I have with using the summary attribute is that if a table
is so complex that it needs a specific summary of how it is laid out,
you should rethink the table and see if it couldn't be better
constructed or split up into multiple tables -- better for everybody).
If it can't be done, sure, you can stil use the summary attribute to
describe it to a screen reader user.
You could also use it to give the table an accessible name (though
<caption> tag is preferred, because it makes the table name visible to
everyone).



On 12/2/15, Alan Zaitchik < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:
> I am somewhat confused. I originally thought that since <summary> is
> obsoleted in HTML5 I should use an alternative, e.g. any of those discussed
> at http://www.w3.org/WAI/tutorials/tables/caption-summary/. But then I saw a
> summary of tests reported at http://www.davidmacd.com/test/details.html and
> it leads me to think that <summary> is still better than the alternatives as
> far as screen reader users are concerned. (In our application I am concerned
> with off-screen tables accessed only by screen readers.)
> Any advice?
> A
>
> > > > >


--
Work hard. Have fun. Make history.

From: Elizabeth J. Pyatt
Date: Thu, Dec 03 2015 12:41PM
Subject: Re: Use of <summary> with tables
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Hello:

I second Birkir’s comment that if a table needs a SUMMARY separate from the CAPTION, it’s probably too complex.

I tend to favor the CAPTION tag because both screen readers and sighted users can take advantage of it. If it needs to be hidden it can be, but adding information about what’s in the table is useful for everyone and so is true universal design.

My other cynical reason is that visible content is more likely to be properly maintained by page editors. Aside from items like image ALT text, I try to make sure that all screen reader accommodations are also visible to sighted users. This includes table captions, table headers, H tags/headings, form labels, keyboard focus and so forth (even skip content links). I only use accommodations hidden to sighted users as an absolute last resort.

My two cents
Elizabeth

> On Dec 3, 2015, at 2:00 PM, = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = wrote:
>
>
> From: "Birkir R. Gunnarsson" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
> Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Use of <summary> with tables
> Date: December 2, 2015 at 3:53:26 PM EST
> To: WebAIM Discussion List < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
>
>
> Hi
> You mean the summary attribute, not a summary tag, correct?
> <table summary="this table has x columns, y rows etc. etc.">
> ...
> </table>
> Even if no longer allowed under html5, it is allowed by older coding
> standards and is pretty well supported by assistive technologies.
> The problem I have with using the summary attribute is that if a table
> is so complex that it needs a specific summary of how it is laid out,
> you should rethink the table and see if it couldn't be better
> constructed or split up into multiple tables -- better for everybody).
> If it can't be done, sure, you can stil use the summary attribute to
> describe it to a screen reader user.
> You could also use it to give the table an accessible name (though
> <caption> tag is preferred, because it makes the table name visible to
> everyone).
>
>
>
> On 12/2/15, Alan Zaitchik < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:
>> I am somewhat confused. I originally thought that since <summary> is
>> obsoleted in HTML5 I should use an alternative, e.g. any of those discussed
>> at http://www.w3.org/WAI/tutorials/tables/caption-summary/. But then I saw a
>> summary of tests reported at http://www.davidmacd.com/test/details.html and
>> it leads me to think that <summary> is still better than the alternatives as
>> far as screen reader users are concerned. (In our application I am concerned
>> with off-screen tables accessed only by screen readers.)
>> Any advice?
>> A
>>
>> >> >> >> =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-Elizabeth J. Pyatt, Ph.D.
Instructional Designer
Teaching and Learning with Technology
Penn State University
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = , (814) 865-0805 or (814) 865-2030 (Main Office)

210 Rider Building (formerly Rider II)
227 W. Beaver Avenue
State College, PA 16801-4819
http://www.personal.psu.edu/ejp10/psu
http://tlt.psu.edu

From: Alan Zaitchik
Date: Thu, Dec 03 2015 4:48PM
Subject: Re: Use of <summary> with tables
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Yes, I meant the attribute. Thanks for catching that.
Sometimes we are forced to use content coming from the clients, and in
those instances we don¹t always have the ability to persuade them to break
up tables (or charts and other infographics) into pieces easier to
comprehend. But you¹re right that this generally having to describe table
structure is a sign that the table is poorly designed!
Here¹s another problematic scenario: when we have to make a PDF with an
image of a data table accessible. Dumping tons of data into the ALT text
for the image is horrific. I can only imagine the curses that screen
reader users must utter. How can anyone process data that way?
A



On 12/2/15, 3:53 PM, "Birkir R. Gunnarsson" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
wrote:

>Hi
>You mean the summary attribute, not a summary tag, correct?
><table summary="this table has x columns, y rows etc. etc.">
>...
></table>
>Even if no longer allowed under html5, it is allowed by older coding
>standards and is pretty well supported by assistive technologies.
>The problem I have with using the summary attribute is that if a table
>is so complex that it needs a specific summary of how it is laid out,
>you should rethink the table and see if it couldn't be better
>constructed or split up into multiple tables -- better for everybody).
>If it can't be done, sure, you can stil use the summary attribute to
>describe it to a screen reader user.
>You could also use it to give the table an accessible name (though
><caption> tag is preferred, because it makes the table name visible to
>everyone).
>
>
>
>On 12/2/15, Alan Zaitchik < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:
>> I am somewhat confused. I originally thought that since <summary> is
>> obsoleted in HTML5 I should use an alternative, e.g. any of those
>>discussed
>> at http://www.w3.org/WAI/tutorials/tables/caption-summary/. But then I
>>saw a
>> summary of tests reported at http://www.davidmacd.com/test/details.html
>>and
>> it leads me to think that <summary> is still better than the
>>alternatives as
>> far as screen reader users are concerned. (In our application I am
>>concerned
>> with off-screen tables accessed only by screen readers.)
>> Any advice?
>> A
>>
>> >> >> >> >>
>
>
>--
>Work hard. Have fun. Make history.
>

From: Chagnon | PubCom.com
Date: Fri, Dec 04 2015 10:33AM
Subject: Re: Use of <summary> with tables
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Captions are a good solution for all complex tables and graphics.

Another method based on traditional academic and scientific publishing is to use prefatory information before the item. It's simply a preceding paragraph that describes the graphic or table and points out the most important points. It can be as short as a phrase or as long as a paragraph, and is slipped in between the table's title and the table itself.

We've adapted the concept for accessibility and sometimes, when necessary, added language to help guide screen reader users about the table's structure.

--Bevi Chagnon