Language Access

General Guidelines

Provide human translation of vital information in the threshold languages defined by the Language Access Ordinance. This includes clear navigation to translations.

Currently these languages are:

  • English

  • Spanish

  • Chinese (traditional Chinese)

  • Filipino

Translation for other relevant languages is encouraged

JAWS Screen Reader and Languages

JAWS provides language switching with any supported speech synthesizer. When a Web page author indicates the language of an entire page, or just part of a page, if the synthesizer in use supports that language, JAWS uses the language specific version of the synthesizer to speak the text. The synthesizer must support the language of the information. If the synthesizer does not support the language specified for a page or part of a page, JAWS still indicates the language of the information. For example for Chinese JAWS will say, “heading level 2 , Chinese”

The languages that are spoken by JAWS depends on the synthesizer currently in use.  If you are using the default Eloquence synthesizer that is installed with JAWS, the following languages are available: 

  • American English

  • British English

  • Castilian Spanish

  • Latin American Spanish

  • French, French Canadian

  • German

  • Italian

  • Brazilian Portuguese

  • Finnish

Provide Default Human Language

Ensure that the default human language of each web page can be programmatically determined.

This is to help screen readers load the correct pronunciation rules.

Make sure that a “lang” attribute has been specified in the markup on every web page.


<html lang="en">

Content Presented in a Different Language Than the Default Language

When content has been referred to in a different language, ensure that it has been marked with a lang attribute to help screen reader users or other assistive technology users to properly convert the text into synthetic speech.


An HTML Web page includes links to versions of the page in other languages (e.g., Deutsch, Français, Nederlands, Catalan, etc.). The text of each link is the name of the language, in that language. The language of each link is indicated via a lang attribute.

<ul> <li><a href="..." lang="de">Deutsch</a></li> <li><a href="..." lang="it">Italiano</a></li> <li><a href="..." lang="fr">Français</a></li> ... <li><a href="..." lang="zh-hant">繁體中文</a></li> </ul>