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Applies to

  • Websites
  • Documents
  • Online courses


Many screen reader applications support multiple languages and can switch on-the-fly between supported languages, using the appropriate voice and rule set for the current language. However, currently, screen readers are unable to determine what language a document is written in, or if the language changes within that document. Therefore it is important for authors to define the language of the document or web page, and to identify the language of any blocks of text that deviate from that default language.

Identifying the language of the entire web page or document, as well as its individual parts, helps to ensure that screen readers will correctly pronounce the content.


Most document authoring tools provide a means of identifying the document language as well as the language of specific parts.

WCAG 2.1 success criteria

The issues described on this page, and associated Techniques pages, map to the following success criteria in the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1: