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RE: Lang attribute not P1 ?

From: Charles Oppermann <chuckop@MICROSOFT.com>
Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 14:52:23 -0800
Message-ID: <BB61526CDE70D2119D0F00805FBECA2F057FB2B5@RED-MSG-55>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
<<
On the other hand, with a speech synthesizer that handles English,
Mandarin and Japanese, and defaults to Japanese, adding <BODY LANG-"zh">
will have a Chinese page spoken correctly.
>>

Uh, not really.  First the information has to get to the screen reader,
which then needs to figure it out and use it.  None do that currently.  So
adding LANG will not improve accessibility of pages today.  Everyone has to
cooperate - the author, the user agent and the assistive technology.

Like I said, good idea - maybe even great idea, but not a priority 1 issue.

Try this:
1) Write some web pages and use a screen reader with a multilingual speech
engine.
2) Throw in some LANG attributes and start writing in French.
3) Listen as the screen reader interprets the French into English and starts
speaking it using English.

I won't debate the theoretical benefits, I'm sure there are many, but as a
practical matter, is this issue so pressing that it MUST be done by page
authors or their pages are inaccessible?

The following needs to happen:

1) There needs to be a conduit of information about the language to the
accessibility aid - DOM is the way to go here.  This facility is already
built into Active Accessibility.

2) The few existing assistive technology products that are multilingual need
to rev and understand the information.  The only screen reader currently
that is multilingual, and uses the Dynamic HTML object model still reads the
text off the screen, so the language info is useless without a revision.
I'm not aware of anyone using the language information available via Active
Accessibility.  It's never been requested or commented on.

3) Get page authors to support it.

My bar is fairly high for priority 1 issues.  I just don't think that LANG
attributes meet that bar.  Does anyone else disagree?

Charles Oppermann
Program Manager, Accessibility and Disabilities Group, Microsoft Corporation
mailto:chuckop@microsoft.com  http://www.microsoft.com/enable/
"A computer on every desk and in every home, usable by everyone!"
Received on Monday, 1 February 1999 17:52:34 GMT

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