HTML page has lang attribute

  • Rule Type:atomic
  • Rule Id: b5c3f8
  • Last modified: Mar 11, 2020
  • Accessibility Requirements Mapping:
    • 3.1.1 Language of Page (Level: A)
      • Learn More about 3.1.1 (Language of Page)
      • Required for conformance to WCAG 2.0 and above on level A and above.
      • Outcome mapping:
        • Any failed outcomes: success criterion is not satisfied.
        • All passed outcomes: success criterion needs further testing.
        • An inapplicable outcome: success criterion needs further testing.
    • H57: Using language attributes on the html element
  • Input Aspects:


This rule checks that an HTML page has a non-empty lang attribute.


This rule applies to any document element if it is an html element that:

Note: html elements within iframe and object elements are not applicable as iframe and object elements create nested browsing contexts. However, as these elements are meant to provide a layer of isolation, the declared language of their parent browsing context will likely not be inherited, making it possible for empty lang attributes in nested browsing contexts to also cause accessibility issues.


Each test target has a lang attribute that is neither empty ("") nor only ASCII whitespace.


The language of the page can be set by other methods than the lang attribute, for example using HTTP headers or the meta element. These methods are not supported by all assistive technologies. This rule assumes that these other methods are insufficient to satisfying Success Criterion 3.1.1: Language of Page.

Accessibility Support

There are no major accessibility support issues known for this rule.


Test Cases


Passed Example 1

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This html element has a lang attribute with a non-empty ("") value.

<html lang="en"></html>


Failed Example 1

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This html element does not have a lang attribute.


Failed Example 2

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This html element has a lang attribute with an empty ("") value.

<html lang=""></html>

Failed Example 3

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This html element has a lang attribute whose value is only ASCII whitespace.

<html lang=" "></html>

Failed Example 4

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This html element has no lang attribute, only a xml:lang attribute.

<html xml:lang="en"></html>


Inapplicable Example 1

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This rule does not apply to svg element.

<svg xmlns=""></svg>

Inapplicable Example 2

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This rule does not apply to math element.




An outcome is a conclusion that comes from evaluating an ACT Rule on a test subject or one of its constituent test target. An outcome can be one of the three following types:

  • Inapplicable: No part of the test subject matches the applicability
  • Passed: A test target meets all expectations
  • Failed: A test target does not meet all expectations

Note: A rule has one passed or failed outcome for every test target. When there are no test targets the rule has one inapplicable outcome. This means that each test subject will have one or more outcomes.

Note: Implementations using the EARL10-Schema can express the outcome with the outcome property. In addition to passed, failed and inapplicable, EARL 1.0 also defined an incomplete outcome. While this cannot be the outcome of an ACT Rule when applied in its entirety, it often happens that rules are only partially evaluated. For example, when applicability was automated, but the expectations have to be evaluated manually. Such "interim" results can be expressed with the incomplete outcome.

Useful Links


This section is not part of the official rule. It is populated dynamically and not accounted for in the change history or the last modified date. This section will not be included in the rule when it is published on the W3C website.

axe-coreconsistentYesView Report
SortSiteconsistentYesView Report
QualWebconsistentNoView Report


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