Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 13 years, you’ve probably had to deal with CAPTCHA– or the “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart” — catchy title, right?
Invented to block spammers from using decepticon robots to spam websites with links, CAPTCHA is now in the cross-hairs of disability groups such as Blind Citizens Australia, Able Australia, Media Access Australia and many others due to their ability to create confusion and frustration among people with vision impairments.
Heck, even I have problems dealing with CAPTCHA forms– quite often, the letters and numbers you are asked to type in are barely readable, even with my glasses on.
The alternative to entering the characters has always been a barely audible robotic voice which I have managed to decipher correctly about zero times, ever.
It is hard to imagine how difficult it must be for the 246 million people worldwide with low vision. 246 MILLION people– until I found out about CAPTCHA’s potentially eminent demise and dug a little deeper, I had not considered how many people worldwide suffer from vision impairments.
I have always considered accessibility when designing websites for clients in the past, but I think we can agree this sobering figure is something you will want to consider when it comes to your own websites and marketing collateral.
In a recent interview with IT News, Dr Scott Hollier of Media Access Australia–himself blind– Dr Hollier went as far as to say that CAPTCHA may be contravening the Australian Disability Discrimination Act.
The Australian Communication Consumer Action Network’s policy advisor Wayne Hawkins has now started a petition directed at the CEOs of companies such as Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook in order to help “kill CAPTCHA” for good, suggesting alternatives such as those suggested by W3C (The World Wide Web Consortium).
SitePoint have collated 10 ways to minimise the need for CAPTCHA boxes— it will not eliminate spam, but they will certainly go a long way, without impacting the accessibility of your website. If these steps seem difficult for your team to implement, simply contact us and we will be happy to help.
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