Pronunciation Overview


Most people who are blind rely on specialized text-to-speech (TTS) software called screen readers. Some people with cognitive disabilities who have difficulty processing written text also use screen readers.

Text-to-speech is essential for people with disabilities and useful for all. Many computers and mobile devices today have built in text-to-speech functionality that is used by people without disabilities in different situations, such as when they lose their glasses or their eyes are tired.

Currently text-to-speech pronunciation is often inaccurate and inconsistent because of technology limitations. For example, incorrect pronunciation based on context, regional variation, or emphasis.

Accurate pronunciation is essential in many situations, such as education and assessment (testing students). To learn more, see Pronunciation User Scenarios.

Exploring Technical Solutions

The Pronunciation Task Force has been exploring technical options for content authors to provide pronunciation information. A challenge is developing a solution that will be used by screen readers. Analysis of technical options is being documented in Pronunciation Use Cases.

One aspect of that work is analyzing how required features for accurate pronunciation are covered in existing technical specifications and if they are currently covered in the HTML specification. This is being documented in Pronunciation Gap Analysis.

Status of the Work

The documents linked above are in-progress Working Drafts that provide the foundation for future normative specifications and best practices guidance. The Task Force plans to publish regular updates.

You can follow current work from the Pronunciation Task Force wiki in GitHub.

Who Develops the Pronunciation Documents

Pronunciation documents are developed by the Pronunciation Task Force of the Accessible Platform Working Group (APA WG), which is part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). For more information about the Task Force, see the Pronunciation Task Force page.

How WAI Develops Accessibility Guidelines through the W3C Process: Milestones and Opportunities to Contribute describes formal periods for public review. To get notifications of drafts for review, see Get WAI News for links to WAI tweets, RSS feed, and WAI Interest Group (WAI IG) emails. An email address for sending comments on the pronunciation documents is included in the “Status of this Document” section.

Opportunities for contributing to Pronunciation and other WAI work are introduced in Participating in WAI.

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