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Visual Verification: Accessible CAPTCHA Options for vBulletin Forums Now and in the Future

August 12, 2007 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

vBulletin, a leading provider of online web based forum software, currently features an inaccessible CAPTCHA that provides no reasonable accomodations for blind and visually impaired users. This means that all forums based on vBulletin’s software currently show us the “No Blind People Allowed” sign during the registration process.

At this time, there is one way for forum administrators to work around this barrier. An independent developer has made a RECAPTCHA modification available to licensed vBulletin customers. This modification enables use of the ReCAPTCHA service, which includes an audio version of the CAPTCHA.

A reliable source at vBulletin reports that the upcoming version 3.7 release of the software will provide alternatives to the image verification process in the form of a “simple question” text based CAPTCHA. No date has been given for the 3.7 release at this time.

We ask all vBulletin forum administrators to promptly implement the ReCAPTCHA modification now and to utilize the text based CAPTCHA upon the release of version 3.7. Please make these straightforward modifications to your forums so that the blind and visually impaired will be allowed full participation.

Visual Verification: Urgent Request to Test Browser Compatibility with Audio CAPTCHA Implementations

August 11, 2007 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Recently, we have discovered a rather disturbing trend. Even in cases where sites do provide us with an audio CAPTCHA, it does not always work. In many scenarios, no audio is heard at all! The ability to hear these audio CAPTCHAs often depends on which browser (Firefox or Internet Explorer) and which version of that browser is in use. It is absolutely critical for us to collect some test data in an attempt to resolve this issue in an effective manner. Please follow these steps and report your results as indicated:

  1. Visit Digg – register and attempt to solve the audio CAPTCHA.
  2. Were you able to hear the audio? Please note the answer to this question.
  3. Please indicate the name and version of the web browser in use when attempting to solve this audio CAPTCHA (Firefox 2.0, Internet Explorer 7.0).
  4. Please indicate the name and version of the screen reader in use (JAWS 8.0, System Access 2.3, Window-Eyes 6.1).
  5. Visit What is reCAPTCHA? and attempt to solve the audio CAPTCHA.
  6. Were you able to hear the audio? Please note the answer to this question.
  7. Please indicate the name and version of the web browser in use when attempting to solve this audio CAPTCHA (Firefox 2.0, Internet Explorer 7.0).
  8. Please indicate the name and version of the screen reader in use (JAWS 8.0, System Access 2.3, Window-Eyes 6.1).

Please provide your test results, along with any potentially helpful additional details, in comments to this blog post. Your active participation in this testing is absolutely critical in order to make sure that the audio CAPTCHA solutions we get are actually workable for the vast majority of blind and visually impaired computer users.

American Council of the Blind (ACB) Resolution 07-21 on CAPTCHA Accessibility

August 11, 2007 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

R07-21 Captcha

  • WHEREAS, proprietors of websites have found it necessary to use graphical image verification (CAPTCHA) to enhance website security and to ensure consumer privacy; and
  • Whereas, the use of CAPTCHA on websites has recently increased for purposes relating to identity verification; and
  • Whereas the images and codes that are used for CAPTCHA are inaccessible to people  who are blind and visually impaired; and
  • Whereas, title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which addresses the obligation of places of public accommodation to make their goods and services accessible to people with disabilities has not been consistently applied to websites;

Now therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind, in convention assembled, this 6th  day  of July, 2007, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization strongly urges the United States Department of Justice to apply Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act   to website proprietors who deny access to their websites by users who are blind and visually impaired, through use of inaccessible CAPTCHA and to establish appropriate enforcement mechanisms that assure compliance with web access guidelines by website proprietors.

Be it further resolved that officers, directors and staff of ACB are directed to engage in consultation and to provide technical assistance to website designers, and standard-setting bodies to ameliorate the current egregious barriers to web access caused by current applications of CAPTCHA.

CallBurner Updated to Version With Minor Enhancements and Fixes

August 11, 2007 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Netralia has just released version of the CallBurner Skype call recording application. The enhancements and fixes in this release are listed as follows:

  • Hang up shortcut now works (ALT-G).
  • Unpause shortcut now works (ALT-E).
  • Show Notes – JAWS now announces the “Notes” box.
  • There is also a new feature that allows you to hear a low level beep when recording is taking place (as confirmation that recording is working, without having to have JAWS read the stats tab). To enable this, check the “Play a periodic tone through your speaker(s) when recording” option in the Options window (recording tab).

At this time, CallBurner version has not been publicly posted on the company’s web site. It may, nevertheless, be downloaded directly as a public release in order to take advantage of the listed enhancements. Thanks go to Petro for this information.

Categories: Skype

Blind Navigation Research Project Seeking Participants

August 9, 2007 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

The Computer Science Assistive Technology Laboratory at Utah State University is seeking volunteers who are visually impaired to participate in an online survey.

The survey is part of a research project to discover how people with visual impairments describe and share descriptions of routes. A route is the path a person would travel to get from one location to another location. A route description, also known as route instructions or a set of directions, is the set of statements one person gives to another person so that the second person can successfully travel the route.

Categories: Uncategorized

Visual Verification: THaCAA – Telling Humans and Computers Apart Automatically

August 7, 2007 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

As we already know, there are more options besides audio and visual CAPTCHA that may be used to tell the difference between computers and humans. The open source project THaCAA – Telling Humans and Computers Apart Automatically represents another way to protect valuable web site resources without excluding anyone based on sensory factors such as hearing or sight.

Visual Verification: CAPTCHA Accessibility and the Yahoo! Petition Discussed in Depth on Security Now Podcast

August 1, 2007 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

We thank Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson for reading an e-mail I sent them concerning the need for CAPTCHA accessibility on episode 102 of their Security Now! podcast and discussing it in depth. This show even has an excellent transcript that serves to meet the needs of the deaf or those who would just rather read instead of listen. This is exactly the kind of positive exposure we need to seek for the CAPTCHA accessibility issue on a much more frequent basis. Let’s all sign the Yahoo! Accessibility Improvement Petition and take all possible actions to spread the word as far and wide as possible!