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Table Summary

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HTML 5 needs to find a solution to address the issue of providing explanatory descriptions, or summaries, of complex tables. This page attempts to document the research, proposed solutions, and arguments for and against each proposed technical solution.

Research

data on table summary usage

The following research presents raw data on table summary attribute usage, with citation to sources:

sorted common values of summary attributes

Analysis of the above raw data, collated by common values used for the summary attribute, sorted by number of domains that make use of a common value.

user studies

From http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Aug/0111.html : A usability study of the observation of a single blind user that Joshue recorded, in which the user stated that he thought the information provided by the summary was too much.

Solutions

HTML4 summary Attribute

The summary attribute was the solution provided in HTML4.

Pros

  1. Supported by existing screen reader software
    • Which screen reader software vendor?
    • Which software?
    • Which version(s)?
    • On which operating system(s)?
    • On what URL to an existing web page with a table element with a summary attribute?
  2. THIS LIST IS INCOMPLETE - please contribute by editing this wiki page.

Cons

  1. THIS LIST IS INCOMPLETE - please contribute by editing this wiki page.

Elsewhere

This is also being discussed on the HTML WG wiki: http://esw.w3.org/topic/HTML/SummaryForTABLE