I come from Egypt, live in Austria, work in France, and when I start speaking, some people think I’m American. I speak fluent German and English, but no matter what I do, some expressions and thoughts will always be easier for me in Arabic than in any other language. The expression “mother tongue” hits it rather well – it is the language where I feel most home and safe, despite it getting a little rusty over the years.
Come to think of it, the majority of the human population is probably more comfortable in a language other than English. It happens to be that English is the working language of W3C (and most international organizations) but that does not mean that other languages are not equally welcome at W3C. In fact, W3C encourages volunteers to contribute their valuable time and effort to translation of W3C standards and other resources.
I’m particularly proud of the Policy for Authorized W3C Translations which allows the production of translations that are recognized by W3C. This is especially useful for W3C standards such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which are read and used by a large number of people. Besides Web developers, WCAG 2.0 is also used by decision makers, researchers, accessibility advocates, and people with disabilities from around the world.
Today the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) announced the publication of the French Authorized Translation of WCAG 2.0. It is the first Authorized Translation of WCAG 2.0 and we expect others in Brazilian Portuguese, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and more to follow. There are also several unofficial translations available and in progress. The WCAG 2.0 Translations page lists completed and planned translations.
While this is an impressive list of translations, it is still only a small fraction of all existing languages. For instance, I am looking forward to being able to read WCAG 2.0 in Arabic. If we want to support the diversity of languages and cultures on the Web then we must continue to develop and promote such translations. Please engage and help us promote translations for W3C standards such as WCAG 2.0 in all languages of a truly World Wide Web.