Internationalization and Accessibility

1 minute read

I recently travelled to Frankfurt, Germany.
As soon as I landed, I ran into the next “circle of accessibility hell” AKA internationalization. Some of the problems I ran into were:

  • Google automatically started showing everything in German. I mean, even if I am in germany, google knows I am the same person as yesterday. I am actually logged into the browser and the google site itself.
  • For other sites, trying to guess if the site is available in English by going down line-by-line with a screen reader hoping to hear the word “doich” and assuming that will bring up a drop down for other languages.
  • Even in cases where the site was available in English, there were dynamic parts of the site, such as drop down values that would still populate in German.
  • The browser translate function helped a lot but the screen reader still picked up all punctuation marks as being in German and even on the best of pages, the reading experience was very broken.

I am guessing that we struggle so much with basic accessibility of the primary language sites in the first place that looking at the experience for international users is way to low in the food chain for most site owners. Even so, with the browser translate function, I could manage to more or less do whatever I required.