Re: Alt text on HTML tables

Subject: Re: Alt text on HTML tables
From: Alan Houser <arh -at- groupwellesley -dot- com>
To: dick -at- rlhamilton -dot- net
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2023 21:52:42 -0400

Hi Richard,

Every time I read the HTML5 spec, I'm impressed by the amount of attention paid to accessibility and semantics. So I thought "there must be a way".

What about the "summary" attribute on the table element? This seems to fit your use case.

However, the HTML5 spec does not favor the summary attribute. Section of the spec, Techniques for Describing Tables, addresses several approaches to benefit all readers, including those who cannot see the table.


Alan Houser
Group Wellesley, Inc.
Consultant and Trainer, Technical Publishing
arh on Twitter

> On Apr 28, 2023, at 4:18 PM, dick -at- rlhamilton -dot- net wrote:
> Is there a way to add alt text to a table?
> The alt attribute is not allowed on table, and I donât see a good alternative.
> I know that screen readers can read tables, but in this use case, the column and row labels are the only information of interest (the contents of the cells are examples that donât add any value).
> Iâd like to able to add alt text that a screen reader would provide first, so the user could choose to skip the table itself. The alt text would identify the rows and columns and then state that the cell data are samples and donât need to be read.
> Any thoughts on how best to do this?
> Thanks,
> Richard Hamilton
> -------
> XML Press
> XML for Technical Communicators
> hamilton -at- xmlpress -dot- net

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