Default Language and Language Change


Indicating the language of the content in markup is critical for screen readers and other speech renderings of web resources. These technologies need information about the language so that they can use the appropriate pronunciation standard to render the web resource.

Many speech synthesizers support multiple languages. Marking up the language of the content is especially critical when more than one language is used within a web page; without proper specification, speech renderings could become confusing and unintelligible, similar to the visual confusion that occurs when a character set is not available and apparently random characters appear on the screen.

Benefits to People with Disabilities

  1. Screen readers can select the correct pronunciation standard and deliver the content intelligibly.

Benefits to Everyone

  1. Users receive better search results of web resources since search engines will know what language web resources are in.

Benefits to Developers

  1. The ranking of web resources improves when search engines know what language web resources are in.

More Information

  1. Internationalization Best Practices: Specifying Language in XHTML and HTML Content
  2. W3C WCAG 1.0 language techniques
  3. Language Value Registry


[xml:lang] (xhtml)

[lang] (HTML4)

Related Accessibility Requirements

Section 508

Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Standards

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0