Gday all,

We're all agreed that tables should only be used for tabular data, and should be marked up properly for accessibility.


*WCAG 1.0 and 2.0 links about table accessibility and specific markup*

WCAG 1.0 Checkpoint 5.2 says "For data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers, use markup to associate data cells and header cells. [Priority 1]"
http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT-TECHS/#tech-table-structure
http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-HTML-TECHS/#identifying-table-rows-columns

And in a working draft for WCAG 2.0, HTML Techniques for WCAG 2.0*, Section 7.5, Identifying groups of rows: Use thead to group repeated table headers, tfoot for repeated table footers, and tbody for other groups of rows. (optional)
http://www.w3.org/TR/2003/WD-WCAG20-HTML-TECHS-20031209/#datatables_rowgroup

Section 7.6 Identifying groups of columns: Use the colgroup and col elements to group columns. (optional)
http://www.w3.org/TR/2003/WD-WCAG20-HTML-TECHS-20031209/#datatables_colgroup

Noting, that both are optional, under WCAG 2.0 (working draft).


*XHTML Basic 1.1*
Now that there are more and more handheld devices being used to access the web, I have been thinking that some websites might benefit from moving to a different markup: XHTML Basic 1.1, particularly if the majority of their user-base are on handheld devices. This way they can serve up something the majority of their audience can use and also allow access through a desk- or lap-top device.


*Questions*
XHTML Basic 1.1 does not include thead, tbody and tfoot, along with col and colgroup, which is mentioned under WCAG 1.0 and WCAG 2.0 for acessible complex data tables.
http://www.w3.org/2007/09/dtd-comparison.html

Can a complex table be accessible without these elements, or do we, as developers, accept the loss of accessibility (both on a practical and compliance level) on data tables with the advent of the mobile web**?

As much as I might like to support the argument that complex tables should never appear on mobiles, I'm not sure it's realistic. There may be a time when a complex table in XHTML Basic 1.1 is served up to both handheld, and desk- and lap- top devices. In that event, what can the developer do?

Kat

* Wow, that's a working draft from 2003, SIX years ago. Can that be true?

** Not my preferred option.


Is this too complex for a Monday morning?



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