Explain any words where meaning is ambiguous without pronunciation 

You can help your users by paying attention to words where the meaning isn’t clear unless the word is pronounced (or spoken). Words like these can make it hard for your users to understand your content, especially if they use a screen reader which could pronounce the word incorrectly.

This covers words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently (for example, ‘bow’ v ‘bow’) – also known as heteronyms.

What to do

  • Avoid using words where the meaning, in context, is ambiguous without a pronunciation guide
  • If you need to use such a word, you can explain the meaning to your users by:
    • Providing the phonetic pronunciation of words immediately after the word; or
    • Linking the word to a pronunciation guide on another page on your website; or
    • Linking the word to a pronunciation guide on the same page.


  • If the correct pronunciation is clear from the context of the sentence (for example “Robin Hood used a bow and arrow”).

See also

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I'm Luke, I started Wuhcag in 2012 to help people like you get to grips with web accessibility. Check out my book, 'How to Meet the WCAG 2.0'.

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