How do I ensure my translated website is still accessible?


There are so many translation services and tools out there. How do I make sure that my website is still accessible in languages other than English?


The same techniques that help websites work better for users on assistive technology also help websites work better for users on translation technology, and many people rely on both. When strong accessibility and accurate translation work together, it helps ensure that as many people as possible can use your website.

Several key strategies will improve your website’s accessibility across languages:

  • Tag your website’s language on each page using the “lang” attribute. This improves the accuracy and efficiency of automated translators, and it helps ensure that assistive technologies that read text aloud will pronounce your content correctly. If part of a page is different than the overall language, ensure that content is also tagged with the correct “lang” attribute.
  • Write in plain language. Usually, plain language means using simple sentences and straightforward vocabulary. Content that is easy to read not only helps people with cognitive or reading disabilities to understand your content, it also makes translation easier and more accurate.
  • Avoid images of text. Like many types of assistive technology, automated translators may not be able to interact with text in an image.
  • When providing accessible names for interactive components, use techniques that rely on the visible text. For example, use a component’s internal text as its accessible name, or use the aria-labelledby attribute to programmatically relate the component with its visible label. Translation software and services are more likely to miss attribute text that isn’t visible on the page, though this issue is improving over time. Learn more about different techniques for labeling interactive components in the Widgets course from Accessible Web Academy.

By keeping accessibility in mind, you open your website to a world of possibilities.

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