Understanding Success Criterion 3.1.1: Language of Page

Success Criterion 3.1.1 Language of Page (Level A): The default human language of each Web page can be programmatically determined.

Intent

The intent of this Success Criterion is to ensure that content developers provide information in the Web page that user agents need to present text and other linguistic content correctly. Both assistive technologies and conventional user agents can render text more accurately when the language of the Web page is identified. Screen readers can load the correct pronunciation rules. Visual browsers can display characters and scripts correctly. Media players can show captions correctly. As a result, users with disabilities will be better able to understand the content.

The default human language of the Web page is the default text-processing language as discussed in Internationalization Best Practices: Specifying Language in XHTML & HTML Content. When a Web page uses several languages, the default text-processing language is the language which is used most. (If several languages are used equally, the first language used should be chosen as the default human language.)

Note

For multilingual sites targeting Conformance Level A, the Working Group strongly encourages developers to follow Success Criterion 3.1.2 as well even though that is a Level AA Success Criterion.

Benefits

This Success Criterion helps:

Examples

Related Resources

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

Techniques

Each numbered item in this section represents a technique or combination of techniques that the WCAG Working Group deems sufficient for meeting this Success Criterion. However, it is not necessary to use these particular techniques. For information on using other techniques, see Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria, particularly the "Other Techniques" section.

Sufficient Techniques

  1. H57: Using language attributes on the html element
  2. FLASH13: Using HTML language attributes to specify language in Flash content
  3. PDF16: Setting the default language using the /Lang entry in the document catalog of a PDF document
  4. PDF19: Specifying the language for a passage or phrase with the Lang entry in PDF documents

Advisory Techniques

Although not required for conformance, the following additional techniques should be considered in order to make content more accessible. Not all techniques can be used or would be effective in all situations.

Failures

The following are common mistakes that are considered failures of this Success Criterion by the WCAG Working Group.

Key Terms

human language

language that is spoken, written or signed (through visual or tactile means) to communicate with humans

Note

See also sign language.

programmatically determined

determined by software from author-supplied data provided in a way that different user agents, including assistive technologies, can extract and present this information to users in different modalities

Note

Determined in a markup language from elements and attributes that are accessed directly by commonly available assistive technology.

Note

Determined from technology-specific data structures in a non-markup language and exposed to assistive technology via an accessibility API that is supported by commonly available assistive technology.