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RE: Revise guidelines around changes in language

From: Andrew Kirkpatrick <akirkpat@adobe.com>
Date: Tue, 7 Oct 2014 19:48:43 +0000
To: "Jens O. Meiert" <jens@meiert.com>, W3C Public Comments WCAG 2.0 <public-comments-wcag20@w3.org>
Message-ID: <f636a30b48134c9792b430a00c2ea991@BY2PR02MB171.namprd02.prod.outlook.com>
The Working Group discussed your comment and has the following response:

Thank you for your comment. The need to indicate changes in language is required by WCAG 2.0 and as this document is not changing we will record your comment in the team wiki as an area that we should review as part of a possible future revision.

Responding to your numbered arguments:
1) When the language changes on a page the assistive technologies are expected to adjust accordingly by switching the speech synthesizer to pronounce the language with appropriate inflection.  Most major assistive technologies for people who are unable to read the text directly provide support for this functionality. If a sighted user encounters text in a different language they are able to view the text and determine if they are able to read the language as they are able to view an accurate representation of the information and make that determination.  A non-sighted user encountering text that is in a different language than the default language of the page where the language is not correctly indicated will hear information that will be difficult or impossible to identify even if the user understands the language.  As a result of this degraded information that impacts users with certain types of disabilities and doesn't impact users without disabilities, the working group considers it an accessibility problem when changes in language are not identified. 

2) Marking up all changes does take more time than not marking up changes, but WCAG does not necessarily require that authors do this work themselves.  An author could choose to employ a tool or web-based service to identify and properly indicate the language, if such a tool was available to them.  There may come a time where the machine identification of language is of sufficiently high quality and is integrated into browsers so assistive technologies can programmatically identify the language without the author doing anything.  However, this is not the current state of the technology so authors cannot rely on machine identification of changes in language and will instead need to utilize techniques such as H58 which utilize the lang attribute.

As a final note, it is important to understand that the sufficient techniques are not necessarily the only way to meet success criteria.  As technology changes, a new technique may allow authors to meet a success criteria, but it is up to the author to determine whether a published technique or a non-published technique is effective in their particular situation.

-----Original Message-----
From: jens.meiert@gmail.com [mailto:jens.meiert@gmail.com] On Behalf Of Jens O. Meiert
Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2014 12:40 PM
To: W3C Public Comments WCAG 2.0
Subject: Revise guidelines around changes in language

Following “HTML and Specifying Language” [1] and “Usefulness of language annotations” [2] I propose to review guidelines that mandate marking up changes in language for appropriateness (like H58 [3]).

The primary arguments for this proposal are that 1) determining language is per definitionem not an accessibility problem, and that 2) requiring authors to mark up all changes in language is a costly and unrealistic requirement, and one that may be better and more efficiently done by software at that.

My interest in pursuing a WCAG conversation has been killed; although a bit scattered you find materials clarifying and elaborating the proposal in [1] (also review the comments) and [2].

[1] http://meiert.com/en/blog/20140825/html-and-language/

[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-gl/2014JulSep/thread.html#msg136

[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20-TECHS/H58.html

Jens O. Meiert

Received on Tuesday, 7 October 2014 19:49:13 UTC

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