Archive for the ‘ReCAPTCHA’ Category

Twitter Quietly Fixes Broken Audio CAPTCHA

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

A blind Internet user has reported that Twitter has corrected issues with its audio CAPTCHA during a one-hour Friday evening maintenance window. Blind Access Journal has confirmed the fix.

On August 22, 2007, Twitter implemented the ReCAPTCHA service to protect the site from abuse while granting a level of accessibility to blind and visually impaired people wishing to sign up for the new social networking service. The enhancement was implemented by Twitter in cooperation with members of the connected online blind community. Twitter received praise for this move.

On December 7, 2008, reCAPTCHA began deploying a new audio playback scheme. “Instead of using spoken digits or letters, our new audio CAPTCHA presents entire spoken sentences or phrases that the best speech recognition algorithms failed to recognize,” Luis von Ahn, the project’s executive producer, said on the reCAPTCHA Blog.

“For now, if you are using our custom theme option, we ask that you update the instructions for the audio CAPTCHA to say something along the lines of ‘type what you hear'”, von Ahn told web site developers who implemented reCAPTCHA, signifying the possible need to modify their sites in response to this change.

Reports began to surface of blind people locked out of Twitter’s account creation process. Investigating, Blind Access Journal opened the urgent support ticket 329388 with Twitter’s technical support team on May 28.

“Please resolve this because, as it stands right now, some people are being locked out solely because they’re blind / visually impaired,” Darrell Shandrow stated as part of the request for assistance.

On June 3, the support ticket was closed and removed with the statement “Twitter is a free service, and while we try to provide as much help as we can, we can’t get to every email”. A subsequent request for follow up went unanswered.

On Friday, Twitter underwent an evening maintenance window lasting approximately one hour. Shortly after, an update appeared on the Twitter Status site “The maintenance was successful and we are back up!”

Early Saturday morning, Mika Pyyhkala (pyyhkala) reported “the audio captcha for the Twitter sign up process has been fixed and works now!”

Twitter has made no statement regarding the audio CAPTCHA or any other issues that may have been resolved in Friday’s maintenance downtime.

“Unfortunately it was a very frustrating issue for a lot of people who couldn’t get beyond it,” said Larry Gassman (Lgsinger).

Visual Verification: LiveJournal Makes the Switch to ReCAPTCHA

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

As of today, LiveJournal has switched to ReCAPTCHA to protect their registration process. This visual verification system protects against spammers, allows access for the blind and visually impaired and helps with the optical character recognition of books. ReCAPTCHA provides a turnkey form of protection for web site operators who feel they can’t or don’t want to roll out their own accessible CAPTCHA solution, so we feel there is no excuse for any web site that continues not to offer at least an audio equivalent to meet our accessibility needs.

Visual Verification: Twitter Audio CAPTCHA Issues Likely Resolved – Please Retest

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

The reCAPTCHA folks have been hard at work over this Labor Day weekend chasing down the issues with their audio CAPTCHA implementations in secured forms with Internet Explorer 7.0. Please retest the Twitter audio CAPTCHA and submit your feedback as soon as possible. Let’s also be sure to show our appreciation to the reCAPTCHA team for going far above and beyond the call of duty to resolve this critical issue over a holiday weekend!

Visual Verification: Study Seeks to Expand the Usefulness of Audio CAPTCHA

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

Andy Schlaikjer, a Ph.D student at Carnegie Mellon University, has asked us to carry the following announcement:

I’m conducting a study to aid my research and development of a new form of audio CAPTCHA. If you’d like to participate, please visit the Audio reCAPTCHA study web site.

A CAPTCHA is a special kind of test which can be used to tell humans and computers apart. Many web sites use CAPTCHA’s to combat fraud and automated access to their services. Unfortunately, most CAPTCHA’s are based on a visual task, such as recognizing distorted letters in an image. Such a task can be quite difficult, or impossible, for visually impaired human users to perform.

In an attempt to alleviate this accessibility concern, audio-based CAPTCHA’s have been developed which require users to listen to and transcribe a short audio clip containing a series of random spoken digits. However, performance of state-of-the-art Automatic Speech Recognition technology suggests that this approach may not represent a very strong CAPTCHA in practice. Additionally, the data collected from such a test may only be used to determine the authenticity of the user, and is normally discarded once the test has been performed.

The goals of my research are (1) to develop a stronger form of audio CAPTCHA, (2) create a CAPTCHA which collects useful data, and (3) to strengthen support and adoption of audio-based CAPTCHA’s on the Web. To these ends, I am developing a new audio CAPTCHA based on a more complex task: Transcription of arbitrary speech. For more information, please contact me, or visit the study web site at the URL mentioned above.

Cheers,
Andy Schlaikjer

While we appreciate the new found consideration of accessibility by the people at Carnegie Mellon University, with respect to CAPTCHA, and recognize that audio CAPTCHA is the current state of the art, the considerable ongoing research in this area ought to bring all of us to one concern, which we must ultimately address. Audio CAPTCHA, like its visual cousin, inherently denies access to the deaf and hearing impaired population. This means that the presentation of both an audio and visual CAPTCHA continues to lock out those people whom happen to be both blind and deaf. It seems to us that greater focus ought to be placed, instead, on the development of a highly secure, non-sensory challenge response system that does not inherently discriminate against any legitimate human being, regardless of disability.

Since the reCAPTCHA team has taken considerable steps to improve the accessibility and usability of their current audio CAPTCHA scheme, let’s all help Andy with his study. At the same time, let us all remind CMU and others that, in the long run, audio and visual CAPTCHA does not afford equal access and full participation to all human beings. Instead, it is absolutely critical that a better method of authentication and authorization be devised.

Visual Verification: Please Help Test ReCAPTCHA Audio Playback

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

We have received a request from one of the ReCAPTCHA programmers to perform some testing in an attempt to improve the usability of their audio playback alternative. Once again, this is our opportunity to provide feedback that can result in a direct increase in the accessibility of CAPTCHA. Let’s all step up to the plate this time!

Please complete the following steps, noting the answers to all questions presented:

  1. Note the operating system, name and version of the web browser and screen reader being run for this test.
  2. Visit the ReCAPTCHA live demonstration page.
  3. Select the audio challenge link.
  4. Did you hear any audio?
  5. Were you able to solve the audio CAPTCHA successfully?
  6. If not, what happened? Please note any error messages.
  7. Choose the “Can’t hear the sound?” link.
  8. Were you able to download the MP3 file? If not, please note any error message shown.
  9. Visit Twitter’s Create an Account page.
  10. Select the audio challenge link.
  11. Did you hear any audio?
  12. Were you able to solve the audio CAPTCHA successfully?
  13. If not, what happened? Please note any error messages.
  14. Choose the “Can’t hear the sound?” link.
  15. Were you able to download the MP3 file? If not, please note any error message shown.
  16. Optionally, please note your IP address.
  17. Send your test results to support@recaptcha.net and post a copy as a comment to this article.

The ReCAPTCHA people really want to make sure their service works for as many users as possible, so let’s all step up to the challenge and get them as many high quality test results as possible.

Visual Verification: Trouble with Audio CAPTCHA on Twitter

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

We have received numerous reports from blind users who are unable to use Twitter’s audio CAPTCHA for the past several days. We ask as many of you as possible to visit Twitter, try the audio CAPTCHA and report your results in this ticket opened with Twitter’s customer support team. If you’re already signed into Twitter, it will be necessary to sign out in order to try the audio CAPTCHA again.

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

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

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.


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