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Re: [WAI-IG] Serving my page in the right language

From: Matthew Smith <matt@kbc.net.au>
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 2004 08:37:48 +1030
Message-ID: <405F63B4.6060304@kbc.net.au>
To: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Marjolein Katsma wrote:
  > In my real world there live a lot of people whose native language is not
> that of the country they live in. (In Amsterdam alone, 45% of residents 
> are of non-Dutch origin.)
> In that real world, people go to a store to buy a computer for 
> themselves; what they get is a machine pre-configured with an operating 
> system and browser set to the (main) language of the country they live 
> in (often preconfigured to use a particular ISP as well). No 
> administrator in sight.
> Just how do those people even find out there is such a thing as a 
> language preference? And if they know enough to ask the right questions 
> - will their ISP's helpdesk know enough to help them along?
> My downstairs neighbor, who is Mexican, never had a clue she could set 
> her *keyboard* to use Spanish instead of Dutch. She shares the computer 
> with her daughter who is more fluent in Dutch than in Spanish. Even if 
> they know they can set the browser to a language preference - which 
> would they choose? Their browser certainly doesn't have a clue what 
> their preferences are.

Matthew Smith replies:

I think that we may be drifting a little off-topic as regards Web Accessbility
but I think that this thread demonstrates that Web Accessibility has a major
dependency in the usability/accessibilty of the underlying operating system,
from which application language settings may be inherited.

Unfortunately, things like accessibility are very much afterthoughts for the
most commonly used operating system (and others).  It is assumed that everyone
in the world is literate, sighted, has full mobility, speaks and writes US
English - and many more (false) assumptions.  Marjolein's example gives a good
real-life example of this.

In some PDAs [personal digital assistants, eg: Palm Pilot], whereby, when first
started, one is asked for language, time zone, etc.  This concept has appeal to
me and could be used in many other instances.

I will conclude by saying that I believe that accessibility of everything with
which the user interacts needs to be under consideration; in this case, the User
Agent should present a start-up screen allowing language (and other) preferences
to be set.  I would refer those interested in the larger picture to ISO/TS16071
[Ergonomics of human-system interaction -- Guidance on accessibility for
human-computer interfaces]



Matthew Smith
Kadina Business Consultancy
South Australia
Received on Monday, 22 March 2004 17:07:56 UTC

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