W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > November 2009

Re: Web Browser Preferences and Internationalisation/Accessibility

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2009 15:56:16 -0800
Cc: public-html <public-html@w3.org>
Message-id: <86152217-3FEA-4C5F-A49B-04CF0AC731A0@apple.com>
To: Silvia Pfeiffer <silviapfeiffer1@gmail.com>

On Nov 18, 2009, at 3:39 PM, Silvia Pfeiffer wrote:

> Hi all,
> I have a very concrete request and I am not sure that the HTML WG is
> the right place to solve it, but please bear with me.
> If we want to improve accessibility and internationalisation support,
> I believe we need to do something.
> All modern Web browsers have user preferences and as part of these,
> you can choose your preferred languages for displaying Web pages.
> These preferences are different to the language in which your
> browser's user interface is presented: you can e.g. run your browser
> in English and still want your Web pages inside the browser preferably
> to display Japanese or French or some other language over English.
> Now, not all browsers actually expose this preference setting to Web
> pages. AFAIK, only Internet Explorer does:
> IE has:
> navigator.browserLanguage -> Browser Localized Language
> navigator.systemLanguage   -> Windows OS - Localized Language
> navigator.userLanguage       -> Windows OS - Regional Settings (this
> is the exposure of preferences)
> Firefox only has:
> navigator.language -> only the browser's localized language - no way
> to get the preference in javascript

navigator.language contains the same info that's in the UA string, I  
believe it works in all the non-IE browsers, and it's totally  
accessible from JavaScript.

> To detect language preferences in browsers other than IE, you have to
> analyse the HTTP Request header of the browser, which typically
> includes something like:
>  User-Agent:  Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.6; en-US;
> rv:1.9.3a1pre) Gecko/20091115 Minefield/3.7a1pre

Besides HTTP headers, the user-agent string is also available to  
JavaScript as navigator.userAgent.

> So, the server is told what the preference setting of the Browser is
> and thus, the Web page can extract this from the HTTP header and work
> with it.
> At the recent TPAC, we discussed that to provide better accessibility
> support for video, we need to be able to read the default language
> from the browser preference, then also the default setting for
> displaying captions/subtitles and audio descriptions and react
> accordingly in the Web page. The HTTP header parsing approach won't
> work for default caption/subtitle and audio description settings. But
> the Web pages that are loading will still require to find out about
> these preference settings.
> I believe we need to introduce standard javascript functions for such
> preferences to be exposed to Web pages directly.
> If a Web page can read, e.g.:
> navigator.userLanguage   -> e.g. set to "de-de"
> navigator.userCaptions     -> e.g. set to "off" or "en-us"
> navigator.userAudioDescriptions  -> e.g. set to "off" or "ja-jp"
> then it can react accordingly and e.g. display the Web page in German,
> the captions for videos by default in English, and the audio
> descriptions by default in Japanese.
> I think we need this flexibility and we need such javascript
> interfaces specified and implemented. Is this part of what HTML5 has
> to do?
> Best Regards,
> Silvia.
Received on Wednesday, 18 November 2009 23:56:50 UTC

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