Posted by: Rowan | February 3, 2008

Turning the tables on WCAG2.0

A bloke at work the other day was saying something about WCAG2.0, how it lets you use tables for layout? Shit, I’ve been thinking tables for layout were an admission of defeat.

Another bloke said the same thing though and he sounded a bit pissed off about it, too.

The bit that got up people’s noses seems to be 1.3.2 which says “When the sequence in which content is presented affects its meaning, a correct reading sequence can be programmatically determined“.

Then it lists a whole bunch of things you can do to successfully meet the guideline, like ordering content in a meaningful sequence and using CSS for layout.

It lists some ways you can feck it up, too – like using HTML which doesn’t linearise without losing context, or writing crappy CSS that results in a linearised page losing the context that the CSS-driven page provides.

That bloke that got pissed off about it, he said you’d have to “check the DOM outputs of your site in multiple browsers and prove they’re identical” but that’s a bit OTT. It has to be usable without loss of context in your baseline technologies.

Maybe they listened to what he said though, cos the last working draft of WCAG2.0 removed the word baseline from its conformance statements – but not the concept . You just have to know what technologies your users rely on, and that includes their assistive technologies.

If a bloke has to use a table, then he’s gotta make sure it reads column by column in the technologies our users rely on.

And if a bloke’s working on government stuff he’s gotta cater for a whole lot of technologies, and the most widely accessible way to do it is to write HTML that reflects the CSS version when it’s linearised. Which is testable. And not all that hard.

But using tables for layout? Nah … cop-out.


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