Spoken Presentation in HTML


Presented at 9:15am in Plaza Court 4 on Thursday, November 18, 2021.



  • Irfan Ali, Spoken Presentation in HTML, ETS/W3C
  • Janina Sajka, , W3C
  • Paul Grenier, , W3C
  • Markku Hakkinen, , Educational Testing Service

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Intermediate
  • Type of session: General Conference


The Pronunciation Task Force created a specification intended to fill this technology gap. This first public working draft comes after years of gap analysis, use cases, and user scenarios. The Specification for Spoken Presentation in HTML describes two possible technical approaches. Either approach will improve this situation. We seek feedback from authors and implementors on which approach will work best. Also: Are there approaches that are not described in this document?


The W3C Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) is seeing a growing use in consumer oriented products such as the Amazon Alexa and Google Home, and in speech-based services such as Microsoft Cortana. A key benefit of SSML is its application to improve the quality of spoken presentation for digital content. SSML enables content authors to control speech characteristics such as prosody and rate, pronunciation via phonetic text strings, pausing, numeric value handling, and other features. The W3C Pronunciation Task Force has identified the importance of SSML for ensuring pronunciation accuracy in the context of educational assessment and learning materials, and is now proposing that the assistive technology community examine approaches for implementing SSML to enhance the quality of content spoken by Text to Speech Synthesizers (TTS). TTS has long been used by screen readers and other assistive technologies for people with disabilities. TTS is now also widely used in popular applications such as voice assistants. However, there is currently no way for content creators to mark up HTML content to o that it is correctly and consistently spoken by all commonly used TTS engines and operating environments. In order to address this gap, the Pronunciation Task Force has published a First Public Working Draft, Specification for Spoken Presentation in HTML, following several years of gap analysis & use cases, user scenarios, and specification development. The working draft provides two implementation approaches with the goal of soliciting feedback so that one approach will move forward and become a standard.


  1. SSML support in content and assistive technology
  2. SSML into HTML
  3. Accurate, consistent pronunciation and presentation
  4. Single attribute and multi attribute approach
  5. Feedback

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Alternate Format, Assistive Technology, Captioning/Transcription, EPUB Track, Teaching about Accessibility in Curriculum, Uncategorized, Web/Media Access

Speaker Bio(s)

Irfan Ali

Irfan Ali is an active member of ARIA working group and Application Platform Architecture working group at W3C. He is the Co-chair of the pronunciation task force under APA working. Group. Irfan is working as a Principal Accessibility Engineer at ETS (Educational Testing Service) and drive the accessibility strategy across the organization. Irfan is an accessibility advocate and a public speaker and trainer on accessibility standards and technologies. Irfan holds master degrees in computer science and Business Administration.

Janina Sajka

Ms. Janina Sajka has contributed to the development of accessibility in digital technology, technology policy, and international standards in technology in multiple organizations including ISO/IEC, and the first U.S. Section 508 regulations. Today she serves as a Co-Chair of the W3C Accessible Platform Architectures (APA) Working Group, among other efforts in W3C including the next generation of the W3C Accessibility Guidelines now in development as WCAG 3. She has worked for nonprofits including the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the World Institute on Disability (WID), and continues to take on projects as an independent consultant.

Paul Grenier

Paul works as a Lead Accessibility Engineer at FactSet. He has over a decade of experience practicing inclusive development. He's currently focused on increasing the effectiveness of teams to deliver accessible solutions by working closely with content authors, designers, and product owners.

Markku Hakkinen

Mark leads the Accessibility Standards & Inclusive Technology Group at ETS. His interests include non-visual and multimodal interfaces supporting users with visual impairments, improving spoken presentation of content, digital accessibility policy, and technical standards that include and enhance the accessibility of digital technologies. Outside of ETS, Mark teaches accessibility and inclusive design each summer at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland as part of the Cognitive Science program there. Markku holds a doctrate degree in cognitive science.