Techniques for WCAG 2.0

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G163: Using standard diacritical marks that can be turned off


All technologies.

This technique relates to:


The objective of this technique is to provide users with a mechanism for turning standard diacritical marks on or off.

Many languages use diacritical marks or diacritics to indicate the pronunciation of words or to help distinguish between words. Some languages may use diacritics to denote vowels, to indicate consonant doubling, to indicate the absence of a vowel or a consonant, or for other purposes. Although text without such diacritics can be readable, the addition of diacritics can improve readability.


Example 1

A Web page in Hawaiian displays all diacritical marks by default and provides links that allow users to select the level of display of diacritical marks:

The visitor selects the level he or she prefers, and this preference is stored into a session cookie. All subsequent pages during that same session have access to the cookie, and show or hide diacritics according to the selected level.

On the server side, content is stored with all diacritical markings. If a visitor prefers fewer or no diacritics, a server-side function replaces or removes diacritics as desired before sending the response.

Example at Hawaiian language online.



For any Web page in a human language that uses diacritical marks to distinguish between meanings:

  1. Check that the default version of the content uses diacritical marks.

  2. Check that there is a mechanism to turn diacritical marks on or off.

  3. Check that using the mechanism to turn off diacritical marks results in content that does not display diacritical marks.

  4. Check that using the mechanism to turn on diacritical marks results in content that displays diacritical marks.

Expected Results

If this is a sufficient technique for a success criterion, failing this test procedure does not necessarily mean that the success criterion has not been satisfied in some other way, only that this technique has not been successfully implemented and can not be used to claim conformance.

Techniques are Informative

Techniques are informative—that means they are not required. The basis for determining conformance to WCAG 2.0 is the success criteria from the WCAG 2.0 standard—not the techniques. For important information about techniques, please see the Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria section of Understanding WCAG 2.0.