Using the ruby element

Important Information about Techniques

See Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria for important information about the usage of these informative techniques and how they relate to the normative WCAG 2.1 success criteria. The Applicability section explains the scope of the technique, and the presence of techniques for a specific technology does not imply that the technology can be used in all situations to create content that meets WCAG 2.1.

Applicability

XHTML 1.1 and HTML5

This technique relates to Success Criterion 3.1.6: Pronunciation (Sufficient).

Description

The objective of this technique is to use ruby annotation to provide information about the pronunciation and meaning of a run of text where meaning is determined by pronunciation.

There are many languages in which a run of text may mean different things depending on how the text is pronounced. This is common in East Asian languages as well as Hebrew, Arabic, and other languages; it also occurs in English and other Western European languages.

Ruby Annotation allows the author to annotate a "base text," providing a guide to pronunciation and, in some cases, a definition as well. Ruby is commonly used for text in Japanese and other East Asian languages. Ruby Annotation is defined as a module for XHTML 1.1 or HTML5.

There are two types of Ruby markup: simple and complex. Simple Ruby markup applies to a run of text such as a complete word or phrase. This is known as the "base" text (rb element). The Ruby annotation that indicates how to pronounce the term (the rt element, or Ruby text) is shown in a smaller font. (The term "Ruby" is derived from a small font used for this purpose in printed texts.) The Ruby text is usually rendered above or immediately before the base text, that is, immediately above horizontal text or immediately to the right of vertical text. Sometimes Japanese uses Ruby to provide the meaning of text on the other side of the base text (visually) from the phonetic annotation. Simple Ruby markup also provides a "fallback" option for user agents that do not support Ruby markup (that is, user agents that do not support XHTML 1.1 or HTML5).

Complex Ruby markup makes it possible to divide the base text into smaller units, each of which may be associated with a separate Ruby annotation. Complex Ruby markup does not support the fallback option.

Ruby annotation is uncommon in languages such as Hebrew, where Unicode fonts can include diacritical marks that convey pronunciation. It is also uncommon in English and European languages.

Note: The primary reason for indicating pronunciation through Ruby or any other means is to make the content accessible to people with disabilities who could read and understand the language of the content if information about pronunciation were provided. It is not necessary to provide information about pronunciation for use by people who are not familiar with the language of the content.

Examples

Example 1: Ruby markup providing pronunciation information for an initialism

This example uses Ruby annotation to give the pronunciation of the initialism (acronym) formed by the first letters of the words Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The letters WCAG are the base (the rb element), and the pronunciation information is shown by the Ruby text (the rt element). The Ruby parenthesis element rp is used for user agents that do not support Ruby annotations to indicate that the text in the rt element provides the pronunciation information. The pronunciation information is rendered in parentheses immediately following the base text. (User agents that support Ruby do not show the parentheses.)

<p>When we talk about these guidelines, we often just call them
  <ruby>
    <rb>WCAG</rb>
    <rp>(</rp>
      <rt>Wuh-KAG</rt>
    <rp>)</rp>
  </ruby>.
</p>

Example 2: Ruby annotation for Japanese

The following is an example in Japanese. For Japanese, the Ruby is used to give the reading of Han characters(Kanji). the Ruby parenthesis element rp is used for user agents that do not support Ruby annotations to indicate that the text in the rt element provides the pronunciation information. The pronunciation information is rendered in parentheses immediately following the base text. (User agents that support Ruby do not show the parentheses.)

<p>
  <ruby>
    <rb>慶應大学</rb>
    <rp>(</rp>
    <rt>けいおうだいがく</rt>
    <rp>)</rp>
  </ruby>
</p>    

Resources

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

Tests

Procedure

For each run of text where a Ruby annotation is used to provide pronunciation information:

  1. Check that a rt element contains pronunciation information for each run of text defined by the rb element.
  2. If simple Ruby markup is used, check that the rp element is present to indicate to user agents that do not support Ruby annotations that the text in the rt element provides the pronunciation information. .

Expected Results

  • Checks #1 and #2 are true.