I just tried creating a Google account to facilitate participation in groups and other services. I was stopped dead in my tracks for one and only one reason; blindness! See, like many web sites, the creation of a Google account requires typing text shown in a verification graphic. No audio alternative is provided for this information.

The use of verification graphics is intended to test for the presence of a live human being rather than the use of a script or other automated system. This technique prevents the creation of hundreds of accounts by spammers and others who might abuse Internet resources.

Verification graphics without accessible audio alternatives are testing for the presence of only a sighted human being since blind human beings are physically unable to see the graphic. From the point of view of blind people, these are the characteristics of inaccessible security verification graphics:

  • They are intended to test for the presence of a real, live human user.
  • Blind people are human users.
  • Inaccessible verification graphics exclude blind people.
  • They thus fly in the face of our very humanity and personhood.

Verification schemes without appropriately accessible alternatives must be challenged at every turn and their creators must implement corrective actions that empower blind people to avail themselves of all products and services that are available to the sighted. If you are the creator of such a scheme, we in the blind community are more than happy to help you make it accessible. All you must do is ask and you shall receive. If you are a fellow blind Internet user, please comment with ideas on the types of actions we can take to make graphical verification systems accessible.