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Web Accessibility Principles

Avoiding tables for layout


From:

Web Accessibility Principles

with Zoe Gillenwater

Video: Avoiding tables for layout

>> Traditionally, web designers have used HTML tables for defining the layout of the page. However, using tables for visual formatting not only violates the practice of separation of content and presentation that we talked about earlier, but also can provide problems for screen readers and text browsers who need to reflow The page in a linear way, as well as people who prefer to read web pages at very narrow width, such as people with tunnel vision or dyslexia. Screen readers method of reading table context is called linearization.
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  1. 2m 0s
    1. Welcome
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      57s
  2. 33m 15s
    1. What does accessibility mean?
      5m 51s
    2. How does accessibility help your users?
      3m 30s
    3. Experiencing a website via a screen reader
      5m 46s
    4. How does accessibility help you and your clients?
      3m 9s
    5. Overview of Section 508 standards
      5m 51s
    6. Overview of WCAG standards
      6m 4s
    7. Understanding consistency and semantic markup
      3m 4s
  3. 54m 31s
    1. Understanding screen readers and accessibility tools
      6m 12s
    2. Getting accessible browsers
      5m 41s
    3. Customizing Firefox for accessibility testing
      5m 53s
    4. Using custom accessibility toolbars
      5m 28s
    5. Using Fangs and the Color Contrast Analyzer
      5m 30s
    6. Accessibility tools to bookmark
      5m 53s
    7. Using automated accessibility checking tools
      4m 57s
    8. Setting up the JAWS screen reader on Windows
      6m 42s
    9. Using the VoiceOver screen reader on Mac OS X
      5m 52s
    10. Setting Dreamweaver accessibility preferences
      2m 23s
  4. 26m 12s
    1. Avoiding tables for layout
      3m 30s
    2. Using CSS for layout
      2m 40s
    3. Creating a fixed-width layout
      5m 51s
    4. Creating an elastic layout
      3m 51s
    5. Creating a liquid layout
      3m 4s
    6. Customizing a liquid layout
      7m 16s
  5. 1h 6m
    1. Specifying the language
      3m 43s
    2. Setting page titles
      2m 16s
    3. Setting headings and paragraphs
      9m 55s
    4. Styling headings
      9m 56s
    5. Hiding section headings from sighted users
      6m 41s
    6. Styling text for readability
      6m 41s
    7. Ensuring proper color contrast
      6m 36s
    8. Creating text emphasis
      4m 29s
    9. Indicating quotations
      4m 29s
    10. Creating basic lists
      4m 16s
    11. Styling lists
      7m 15s
  6. 1h 15m
    1. Using lists for navigation
      6m 45s
    2. Creating a horizontal navigation bar
      13m 25s
    3. Creating a vertical navigation bar
      11m 44s
    4. Adding skip navigation links
      12m 0s
    5. Hiding skip navigation links
      6m 17s
    6. Proper link text and title attributes
      6m 11s
    7. Opening new windows
      4m 28s
    8. Accessibility limitations of fly-out menus
      6m 30s
    9. Creating an accessible fly-out menu
      8m 38s
  7. 27m 55s
    1. Proper ALT text for navigation images
      4m 57s
    2. Proper ALT text for decorative images
      5m 19s
    3. Adding ALT text to an existing site
      6m 9s
    4. Adding ALT text to image maps
      5m 58s
    5. Describing complex graphics
      5m 32s
  8. 34m 1s
    1. Using tables for data
      3m 0s
    2. Creating header cells
      4m 5s
    3. Adding table captions and summaries
      9m 9s
    4. Styling tables
      5m 19s
    5. Applying header cells to complex tables
      6m 52s
    6. Adding id and headers attributes
      5m 36s
  9. 42m 7s
    1. Understanding form accessibility issues
      3m 7s
    2. Labeling form fields
      6m 9s
    3. Adding fieldsets and legends
      4m 42s
    4. Moving forms out of tables
      3m 44s
    5. Cleaning up a form's appearance
      4m 53s
    6. Aligning labels and fields using CSS
      9m 39s
    7. Indicating required fields
      6m 15s
    8. Dealing with CAPTCHA
      3m 38s
  10. 7m 29s
    1. The Text-Only technique
      3m 21s
    2. The Access Keys technique
      2m 35s
    3. The Tab Index technique
      1m 33s
  11. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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Web Accessibility Principles
6h 10m Appropriate for all Oct 16, 2007

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Accessibility on the web has been an issue for over a decade, and it remains a crucial--but often overlooked--element of web design. Instructor Zoe Gillenwater explains the concept of accessibility as it applies to the web, and describes how it affects the audience. She also covers how to set up accessibility testing, and how to apply accessibility principles to new and existing sites using standards-compliant markup and CSS. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.

Topics include:
  • Understanding Flex programming languages
Subjects:
Web User Experience Accessibility
Author:
Zoe Gillenwater

Avoiding tables for layout

>> Traditionally, web designers have used HTML tables for defining the layout of the page. However, using tables for visual formatting not only violates the practice of separation of content and presentation that we talked about earlier, but also can provide problems for screen readers and text browsers who need to reflow The page in a linear way, as well as people who prefer to read web pages at very narrow width, such as people with tunnel vision or dyslexia. Screen readers method of reading table context is called linearization.

They basically read from top to bottom and left to right. They start in the first row, read every cell in that row in order, and then move onto the second row and so on. If there's a nested table in any of the cells that whole nested table is read following the same order before moving onto the next cell. So the order the content appears in the source is the order that it will be read. To check your reading order, then, you just need to look at the source. But you can also use some of the tools that we went over earlier. You could use Jaws or another screen reader, of course, or you could use Lynx, a text browser, or the Firefox extension Fangs, which outputs a text version of your page.

Let's look at a couple examples of simple tables to make sure we understand how they're going to linearize. If you're following along with the exercise files I have open Table1.html and Table2.html from the Chapter Three exercise files. Table1.html is a very simple table. In this table the first cell that would be read would be the top left cell, with the text name of the site. The next cell that would be read would be the next one in the row. So it would be the second cell with the text tag line. The third item read would be the third cell in the first row with the text search bar.

After this row is completed being read the screen reader would go onto the second row starting with the left-most cell, navigation menu. Then it would read main content, then it would read featured items. So in this simple case the linearization is probably OK. It will probably make sense to people using a screen reader or text browser. However, the user would have to listen to the entire navigation menu read before they got to hear the main content. If there are a number of items in that menu that could become a problem.

There are ways that we can get around this, as we'll talk about in later movies. But many times linearization disconnects related content from each other so that it doesn't make sense, or it makes the user hear even more less important content before they finally get to the content they were wanting. Table2.html is a slightly more complex table that illustrates this. It's the same table except in the main content cell another table has been nested within. This table also has two rows and three columns. The order that this content would be read would be header 1, then header 2, then header 3, followed by the story 1 text cell, story 2 text, and finally, story 3 text.

So this example shows headings disconnected from their content. So the text that will be read doesn't have the correct context and probably would be confusing. It could also even be misleading depending on the text of the third header and the text of the story 1 content that would be read in order. Although there are changes that we could make to the table itself to make this bad example linearize better, many real-world sites are too complicated to modify for compliance. In those cases, CSS should be used for laying out the site. We'll talk about that next.

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