Non-native english speaking blind people have their default
speech language typically set to their native language.
When they end up browsing to a site in english (or any language other
than their native one for that matter) the screen reader starts
to read english with pronounciation from their native language.
While some people start to understand such speech output after a while,
it is really a pain to work with. Of course, you can switch
to a different speech language manually, but that takes time,
and people end up not doing it in a lot of situations.
Some screen readers have automatic language detection implemented,
but it fails to work correctly in many cases, which is why
most users have autodetection actually turned off.
The simple fix
Use the lang= attribute to declare what language your document (or parts of your document) uses.
A lang= attribute on the top-level <html> tag will
let screen readers know what the default language of this document is.
This is a very simple change that you might be able to do in a few seconds/minutes,
depending on what framework you use.
Please consider declaring your document language, it will
make the overall experience of surfing the net for non-english
blind users a lot nicer.
I am writing this article because I got frustrated with
Hacker News not declaring lang="en". Whenever I visit
the site, I get all the content read with a german speaker.
However, HN is definitely not the only bigger site that gets this wrong.
Please check your projects
If you are maintaining websites, please take the time and
check if you are declaring the document language. If not, please
consider adding this very small change to your site.