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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Captchas Bad Accessiblity

Google in its various services is using Captchas* to shut out bots... but by doing so, they shut out blind people as well. Susan Kuchinskas says:

“Accessibility activists charge that search goliath Google shuts blind people out of many of its services. (...)

Many vision-impaired computer users employ screen readers, software applications that convert text and graphics – as long as the graphics have descriptive “alt” tags – into audio. The speech simulator can read menus and the names or descriptions of navigational elements such as buttons and links. But screen readers are stymied by captchas.

Google is working on it, said Marissa Mayer, director of consumer products. “We are planning on releasing some alternatives in the next one to two months that make our current captchas more compatible with screen readers, and we’re looking into audio captchas,” Mayer said.”

[Via SEW.]

*Captchas are images with text on them that users are requested to enter to register to a service. This is a defense against automated registration processess by spammers and such; bots may be good at automatically reposting a form, but they’re not as good at OCR (character recognition) on bizarre letters. Reading those bizarre letters however is easy for most (but not all) human users.


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