Changing Pronunciation with CSS for Screen Readers


Use CSS to change pronunciation of words for screen readers


When it comes to digital accessibility, ensuring that the content is correctly pronounced by screen readers is vital. While screen readers generally do a good job, there may be instances where you need to adjust the pronunciation of specific words or phrases. In such cases, CSS can come to your rescue. In this article, we will explore how CSS can be used to change the pronunciation of words for screen reader users.

Changing Pronunciation with CSS

CSS provides the text-rendering property, which can be used to modify the pronunciation of text for screen readers. By applying the appropriate CSS class to specific elements, you can control how screen readers pronounce certain words or phrases. Here’s an example:

Code Example:

<p>The word <span class="pronunciation">GIF</span> is pronounced as "jif" by many people.</p>

In the example above, the word “GIF” is wrapped in a span element with the CSS class “pronunciation”. Now, let’s apply the CSS code to change the pronunciation:

CSS Example:

.pronunciation {
  text-rendering: optimizeSpeed;
  speak-as: literal;

By setting the text-rendering property to “optimizeSpeed” and using the speak-as property with the value “literal”, we ensure that the screen reader pronounces the word “GIF” as “GIF” instead of attempting to interpret it as a common English word.

Best Practices

When using CSS to change pronunciation for screen readers, it’s important to keep a few best practices in mind:

  • Use this technique sparingly and only when necessary. Changing pronunciation should be reserved for cases where the default pronunciation is misleading or incorrect.
  • Test your changes with multiple screen readers to ensure compatibility and consistency across different platforms.
  • Provide alternative text or explanations when necessary. While changing pronunciation can be helpful, it’s essential to consider the overall context and provide additional information if needed.


CSS provides a powerful way to modify the pronunciation of words or phrases for screen reader users. By applying CSS classes and using properties like text-rendering and speak-as, you can ensure that screen readers pronounce specific content correctly. However, it’s important to use this technique judiciously and test your changes to maintain compatibility and accessibility. Remember to provide alternative text or explanations when needed to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive user experience.