W3C's goal is a Web for All, regardless of language, script or culture. The Web community has made tremendous progress in internationalizing the Web over recent decades, but as Web penetration in language communities increases, as usage scenarios grow, and as new applications such as digital publishing emerge, there remains more to do.
For the Web to truly work for stakeholders all around the world, there must be a collaboration of language experts, Web site designers, developers, and vendors who are active in moving the Web forward. To ensure a rapid response to the growth of the Web, the W3C wants to marshal the resources of organizations and experts who care about these problems and enlist their help in strengthening internationalization support for the Web.
To accelerate progress in this area, the W3C is also looking to supplement the core funding it receives from W3C Member fees so that it can increase in-house resources dedicated to this work.
The initiative will provide participants and funding to address three main aspects of the internationalization continuum:
Success in meeting these goals requires participation and funding from language, developer, and author communities, in order to expand the effort over and above what can be achieved with our core funding.
|Stakeholders||Governments, Publishers, User communities,…||W3C Working Groups, Application developers,…||Content authors & developers, localizers,…|
|Typical activities||Gap analysis & prioritization|
|Guidelines & checklists|
The main vehicle for expanding our core work is a Sponsorship Program with the following levels.
|Badges with which to promote role as sponsors of W3C Internationalization||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Opportunity to designate up to half of the funding toward specified goals or projects||-||✓||✓||✓|
|A seat on the Internationalization Review Board||-||-||✓||✓|
The Internationalization Review Board will be chaired by W3C Staff, as well as Sponsorship Program partners. It will meet twice a year and review plans and progress, advise on new directions, and liaise with the broader internationalization community.
In addition to sponsorship funding, the W3C is looking for stakeholders to provide expert personnel to help with the initiatives outlined above. It is important for people around the world to contribute to building the international Web on behalf of their own communities, and also for those who are developing Web technologies to ensure that resources are available so that developing regions don't become second-class citizens on the Web.
When someone gets connectivity and finds their own language poorly supported, in most cases they have not really succeeded in getting access. We will only truly connect all communities once the Web supports rich communication in their language. And that begins with basic language enablement at the technical level, which is the goal of this project. Please help us achieve that.
If you or your organization would like to participate in or sponsor the W3C Internationalization Initiative, please contact Ralph Swick at
The W3C wants to ensure that local requirements for language support on the Web are identified and addressed. Text layout is an area of particular interest, and is concerned with things such as rules for line-breaking & justification, local approaches to expressing emphasis or decorating text, localizing counter styles, supporting bidirectional text in markup, initial-letter styling, hyphenation, page layout, and so on. These typographic conventions are often very different from the Western norm in languages that use writing systems such as Arabic, Devanagari, Thai, Mongolian, and so forth.
In Web pages and in digital publishing, needs can be addressed by improving W3C standards for rendering text (such as CSS, WebVTT, SVG, etc.), and markup (such as HTML). The goal here is to ensure that the Web supports the native typographic features that users around the world are used to, and enables users to interact with the Web in line with long-standing print traditions. The language matrix captures an overview of where work is needed.
To achieve this goal, the W3C needs to assess current support for the world's languages on the Web, identify gaps, prioritize them, develop requirements, and then take steps to close the gaps. To do so, it needs to establish a network of experts who can advise on language-related requirements, and increase resources available to facilitate the work in this area.
A core focus for the W3C is to support creators of specifications, of system-level tools (e.g., browsers, printers), and of user-level tools (e.g., wysiwyg editors), by helping them understand and implement support for international features. Enhanced support is now required due to:
Plans to provide additional support include accelerated development of guidelines and checklists, in order to remove review bottlenecks and disseminate information more effectively. They also include more investigations into ways of meeting internationalization requirements in new areas of technology and tooling.
Photos: 和平, Tibetan boy reading; Dmitri Popov, Japanese book spines.