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From: Jukka Korpela <jukka.korpela@tieke.fi>
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2002 13:02:28 +0300
Message-ID: <621574AE86FAD3118D1D0000E22138A95BDDF5@TIEKE1>
To: "WAI (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

SHARPE, Ian wrote:

> Could somebody please explain the difference between UTF8 and 
> UTF16 to me and why you would want to use UTF16 over UTF8? 

UTF-8 and UTF-16 are character encodings or transformation formats (the
terminology varies somewhat) for Unicode/ISO 10646. There's some basic
(though partly perhaps too technical) information on them in the Unicode

The encoding issue is not particularly related to accessibility, so some
other forum would probably be better suited for discussing the choice. But
there's an indirect accessibility impact, at least potentially. UTF-8 is
"IETF favored" encoding in the sense described in "IETF Policy on Character
Sets and Languages", RFC 2277, see e.g.
ftp://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc2277.txt In principle, the policy relates to
protocols, but it might be seen as a general recommendation to regard
support to UTF-8 as a prime objective. Thus, e.g. authors of assistive
software should give high priority to UTF-8 support. And we might read this
as a reason to favor UTF-8 over UTF-16, since a larger number of users can
be expected to have software that can handle UTF-8. The difference, if any,
is hardly a big one, but it's probably in that direction.

Jukka Korpela, senior adviser
TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre
Phone: +358 9 4763 0397 Fax: +358 9 4763 0399 
Received on Tuesday, 20 August 2002 05:57:32 UTC

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