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World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) launches Internationalization Initiative

W3C leads program to accelerate progress in making the World Wide Web "worldwide"

https://www.w3.org/ — 9 July 2018 — The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced today the launch of the Internationalization Initiative to further internationalize the Web.

Internationalization ("i18n") is the design and development of applications, specifications, etc, in a way that ensures they will work well for users regardless of culture, region, or language. Web for All has long been an area of strong commitment at the W3C. From its inception in early 1998, the i18n activity has worked to enable universal access to the Web, producing an extensive range of completed and ongoing work to make the World Wide Web truly world wide. However, as the Web continues to grow, as we welcome more of our world onto the Web, we want and need to do more.

"The key thing about the Web is that it is universal. One of the most important actions taken at the start - to make sure the Web was for everyone - was Internationalization. People who come from different cultures and use different languages work to make sure that all kinds of languages, whether read from left or right, can be shared and used on the Web. That makes me very proud. Inclusive of all cultures, the Web is richer." said Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web and W3C Director.

Tremendous progress in internationalizing the Web over recent decades, but more to do

Internationalization makes it possible to use Web technologies with different languages, scripts, and cultures. The W3C Internationalization activity works with W3C working groups and liaises with other organizations to internationalize the Web.

The Web community has made tremendous progress in internationalizing the Web over recent decades, from making Unicode the foundation of the Web, to providing support for bidirectional writing systems such as Arabic and Hebrew, to addressing styling needs for vertical text and other native typographic features, etc. 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.

Ethnologue lists 7,100 languages in current use, but W3Techs reports that less than two hundred languages are currently used for content pages on the Web, and that over half of all websites use English. Only around a quarter of current Web users use English online. If the Web is to live up to the "World Wide" portion of its name, it must support the requirements of worldwide users, and allow them to engage with content in the own languages.

"Supporting the W3C Internationalization Initiative with funding or expertise is a vital way that our Web community creates the future of the global Web." according to Jeff Jaffe, W3C CEO.

W3C takes action to expand Internationalization core work

The Internationalization Initiative will attract participation in the form of stakeholders to provide expert personnel and additional funding to provide a significant boost to work in three main aspects of the internationalization continuum:

Typical activities include:

Founding Sponsors and participants partnering to truly connect all communities

W3C Members Alibaba, Apple, Advanced Publishing Lab (Keio University), Monotype, and The Paciello Group have stepped forward as Founding Sponsors of the Internationalization Initiative. Sponsors enjoy unique benefits, including a seat on the Internationalization Review Board and the ability to sponsor specified goals or projects.

In addition to sponsorship funding, the W3C is seeking 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. In addition, those who develop Web technologies need to ensure that resources are available so that developing regions don't become second-class citizens on the Web.

About W3C Internationalization

The mission of W3C Internationalization (I18n) Initiative is to enable universal access to the World Wide Web. It proposes and coordinates the adoption at W3C of techniques, conventions, technologies, and designs that enable and enhance the use of the Web, with and between the various different languages, scripts, regions, and cultures. W3C pursues this goal in various ways, including collaboration with W3C groups, coordination with other organizations, creation of educational materials, and technical work itself on various topics. Acclaimed work ranges from the popular Internationalization Checker, to the widely used documents on Working with Time Zones, Character Model for the World Wide Web, or Requirements for Japanese Text Layout.

About the World Wide Web Consortium

The mission of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is to lead the Web to its full potential by creating technical standards and guidelines to ensure that the Web remains open, accessible, and interoperable for everyone around the globe. W3C develops well known specifications such as HTML5, CSS, and the Open Web Platform as well as work on security and privacy, all created in the open and provided for free and under the unique W3C Patent Policy. For its work to make online videos more accessible with captions and subtitles, W3C received a 2016 Emmy Award.

W3C's vision for "One Web" brings together thousands of dedicated technologists representing more than 400 Member organizations and dozens of industry sectors. W3C is jointly hosted by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the United States, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France, Keio University in Japan and Beihang University in China. For more information see https://www.w3.org/.

End Press Release

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Testimonials from Founding Sponsors

Advanced Publishing Lab, Keio University

Keio Advanced Publishing Laboratory (APL), which is sponsored by four major Japanese publishers and the biggest ebook distributor in Japan, sincerely appreciates W3C for the internationalization of the Web.

APL welcomes the Internationalization Initiative. We ardently desire to contribute for W3C so that the Web will truly work for stakeholders all around the world. APL is convinced that many requirements from the Japanese market are also applicable to other languages, scripts, and culture.

Jun Murai, Director of APL, Professor, Keio University


A Web that truly works for stakeholders all around the world is in the best interests of the entire Web community, and more broadly, the human society. Alibaba sincerely hopes that, through I18N initiative activities such as this sponsorship program, more members in the community could collaborate on taking care of the areas that have been less adequately covered in the current I18N activity and handling the new emerging challenges. Some specific suggested topics include the requirements from Southeast Asia and India. As a member in the Web community, we want to make sure that the Web for All definition covers them as well.

Judy Zhu, Alibaba, Standardization Director


Monotype is proud to support W3C Internationalization initiative. We believe this core activity of W3C contributes directly to building a stronger foundation of the Web, one that enables it to serve both as a main communication technology and a digital publishing medium. As such, ensuring that people can communicate in any language of the world and on any platform is a critical requirement, the one that is challenging and ambitious at the same time. The effects of this activity may not be immediately visible to a wide audience, but it is of vital importance for the adoption of the lesser used languages to connect people throughout the world together.

Vladimir Levantovsky, Monotype, Director, Standards & Technology Strategy

The Paciello Group

The Paciello Group (TPG) believes that internationalisation is a key part of the web platform, and it is happy to support this initiative at the W3C. The web after all, "is for everyone".

Léonie Watson, The Paciello Group, Director of Developer Communications