W3C launches Internationalisation Initiative

World Wide Web Consortium has announced the launch of the Internationalization Initiative to make the World Wide Web truly world wide.

The Web community has made progress in internationalizing the Web over recent decades, from making Unicode the foundation of the Web, to providing support for bidirectional writing systems such as Arabic and Hebrew, to addressing styling needs for vertical text and other native typographic features, etc. But as Web penetration in language communities increases, as usage scenarios grow, and as new applications such as digital publishing emerge, there remains more to do in terms of promoting greater inclusion.

Ethnologue lists 7,100 languages in current use, but W3Techs reports that less than two hundred languages are currently used for content pages on the Web, and that over half of all websites use English. Only around a quarter of current Web users use English online. If the Web is to live up to the "World Wide" portion of its name, it must support the requirements of worldwide users, and allow them to engage with content in the own languages.

The goal is that the design and development of applications, and specifications ensure they will work well for users regardless of culture, region, or language.

"The key thing about the Web is that it is universal. One of the most important actions taken at the start - to make sure the Web was for everyone - was Internationalization. People who
come from different cultures and use different languages work to make sure that all kinds of languages, whether read from left or right, can be shared and used on the Web. That makes me very proud. Inclusive of all cultures, the Web is richer." said Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web and W3C Director.

W3C Members Alibaba, Apple, Advanced Publishing Lab (Keio University), Monotype, and The Paciello Group have stepped forward as Founding Sponsors of the Internationalization
Initiative. In addition to sponsorship funding, the W3C is seeking stakeholders to provide expert personnel to help with the initiatives outlined above.

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