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RE: Question around WCAG 1.0

From: John Foliot - bytown internet <foliot@bytowninternet.com>
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 09:20:54 -0500
To: "Stephen Garcia" <sgarci@sapient.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <GKEFJJEKDDIMBHJOGLENAEHHCOAA.foliot@bytowninternet.com>

Ah, the interpretive nature of WCAG 1... (don't you hate when guidelines are forced as standards...)

Dealing with official bilingualism here in Ottawa (Canada), the "lang" discussion comes up often.  To my current knowledge, only one screen reader currently supports "on-the-fly" language switching (IBM Home Page Reader), however hopefully others will follow suit.  (Owners of IBM HPR who wish to "test" this may visit http://www.bytowninternet.com/examples/lang.html  NOTE: to switch to "Automatic Language Detection" it is Ctrl + 0)

> For example, I am looking at the home page, I've chosen to view 
> the site in Spanish and I go to the news section. Once in the 
> news section I choose to view an article that hasn't been 
> translated into Spanish yet, thus see an English article in a 
> Spanish page. Does this English article need to be tagged with 
> the "lang" attribute to specify it as English?

Here, I am unclear as to *how* the article is being presented.  Is it a server include which is inserting an English block into an otherwise Spanish page, or is it simply a link to "the article" which may or may not be in the referring language.

In the first instance, wrapping the whole block in a container (<span>?) and assigning the lang attribute (with appropriate  value) to it will "switch" those screen reading technologies which support that functionality.  In the area of cognative disability however, the content may still not be truly "accessible"... in a broad sense if the Spaniard (Francophone/German/Finn) does not read English then they will be unable to access the content.  However, that is for another discussion...

If all you are presenting is a link (perhaps the Headline) then adding the lang attribute to perhaps the anchor tag (which is the Headline link) would suffice.  I would suggest that the fact that the article is in a "foreign" language be clearly indicated before following the link

> And, a similar yet difficult issue for me...
> In allowing editors to enter content through the CMS they can 
> enter words that don't conform to the base language (such as 
> "monsieur" or "bleu" in an English page). Is guideline 4 in the 
> WCAG 1.0 meant to deal with these types of situations? Does the 
> use of non-base language words and sentences go against the 
> standard of making the language clear and simple?

Well, a strict reading of Priority 1, 4.1 states: "Clearly identify changes in the natural language of a document's text and any text equivalents (e.g., captions)."  So yes, I would suggest that this be done.  It gets tricky... most people know what a "deja vu" is (when you think you've experienced a situation before) and will pronounce the word with appropriate "french" inflection, yet without the lang attribute assigned to those words (<span lang="fr">deja vu</span>) most screen readers will pronounce it "dejja vew" (enunciated with "hard J's" and without any appropriate inflection changes). The same with Francais, which is pronounced "Frank-case" or croissante ("Croy-sant").  While most anglophones hearing this will probably understand it *in context*, if the words are less known or used there may in fact be some confusion or loss of comprehension associated.

> To my knowledge there isn't any software on the market that can 
> interpret deviations in natural language. I'd appreciate any help 
> with these matters, I just want to make sure the right things 
> happen and development efforts made are for good purposes.

I guess in a perfect world the CMS would "Know" to deal with these issues, but unfortunately they don't/can't at this point, suggesting that, like many other aspects of accessibility, an interpretive review be undertaken and a judgement call must be made.  In the real world, minor nuisances such as "Frank-case" can probably be overlooked; however if there are large blocks of multi language content, or if the context of the words cannot be decerned, then human intervention must be called upon.  Not knowing your internal process I can only suggest that contributors to the CMS be made aware of the potential problem and advised to consult with a "webmaster" or whatever whenever there is a perceived issue.  I don't think you'll catch everything, but a decent policy outling acceptable and non-acceptable thresh-holds will probably suffice.  

> Thanks in advance,
> Stephen Garcia
> Sapient 
> 1 Bartholomew Lane
> London EC2N 2AB 
> tel 0207 953 3529 
> aim: sgarciaLee 
> A computer without Windows is like a cake without mustard. 
Received on Thursday, 21 November 2002 09:20:58 UTC

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