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Letter to GoDaddy Software Concerning the Accessibility of Visual Verification

March 9, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

March 9, 2005

Dear GoDaddy Management team,

I attempted to perform a Whois domain name search at
http://whois.godaddy.com
and was stopped dead in my tracks by your company’s visual verification process. I am a blind information technology professional with over ten years of
experience, an accessibility advocate and publisher of the Blind Access Journal found at
http://www.blindaccessjournal.com.

I am not able to physically see the characters in the image to type them into the edit field in order to pass a visual verification test. Though the purpose
of these tests is to insure that only a live human being is using the service, they’re really testing and admitting only sighted humans when no accessible
alternatives are provided. In your company’s case, a telephone number (480-505-8899) is provided as a means for gaining access to the Whois information
when the user is blind or visually impaired.
I called 480-505-8899 this morning. After working with your IVR, where no mention is made of the correct option to select for this accessibility situation,
I spoke with Max. He was unable to simply provide me with a verification code, but offered to verbally read the requested Whois information over the phone.
He was helpful but did not have the answers to most of my questions about the inaccessibility of your visual verification process and was unable to tell
me whether or not TDD service was available for the deaf-blind. I was transferred to Dirk, Max’s supervisor, who advised me to write to this e-mail address.

According to the current state of the art in visual verification technology, a commonly accepted way to provide an accessible alternative is to allow the
user to click a link that plays an audio version of the characters being displayed in the image. I am strongly requesting that GoDaddy implement this
audio alternative right away to enable reasonable, independent access to this information for most of the blind and visually impaired. Please do this
in very short order. Companies such as Microsoft, PayPal and SpamArrest already employ this accessibility measure. Please also continue to offer the
alternative of calling the telephone number for those who are unable to use the audio solution, such as those whom are deaf-blind. Of course, please insure
that TDD service is available at this telephone number, or offer another method of contact such as e-mail or instant messaging for these users.

GoDaddy is a leader on the Internet. Please show this leadership by providing real accessibility to your visual verification processes. Enable the audio
solution right away!

Blind Access Journal is covering the impact of inaccessible visual verification systems on the blind, exploring current and innovative new solutions to
the issues and advocating for implementation of accessibility to these systems by everyone who relies on them to protect the security of Internet resources.
A copy of this letter is being posted on the journal. We in the blind community hope to be able to place GoDaddy into the good guys camp as an example
of how to protect Internet users against spam and other abuse while allowing all human beings access to products and services regardless of disability.

Sincerely,

Darrell Shandrow

Publisher

Blind Access Journal: http://www.blindaccessjournal.com

editor@blindaccessjournal.com

After sending this letter to suggestions@godaddy.com as recommended by Dirk on the phone this morning, I received a mail delivery failure notice. I hope this is, in fact, a real e-mail address and that GoDaddy is dealing with technical difficulties. On my lunch break, I will be attempting to determine how to effectively complete the delivery of this letter to Godaddy Software. Let’s keep fighting the good fight! Inaccessible visual verification schemes pose a clear and present danger to our continued ability to access the Internet!

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3 opinions on “Letter to GoDaddy Software Concerning the Accessibility of Visual Verification

  1. my name is siva
    am doing this internet access for the visually impaired people as a project to develop some sort of web browsers that are userfriendly to the visually impaired ..
    any help will be appreciable !!
    thank u !!

  2. Dear Siva,

    Please don’t focus on another custom web browser solution. Instead, please, focus on making things more accessible with existing screen reading technologies that work on mainstream web browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer. Please consider visiting http://www.serotek.com to learn more about System Access and System Access to Go screen reading solutions. There is also an open source screen reader called Nonvisual Desktop Access available at http://www.nvda-project.org.

    Thanks.

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