Google has begun to implement an audio alternative to their visual verification scheme. It is now possible to sign up for GMail, Google Accounts and Google Groups. Password recovery for existing accounts has also been opened to blind users. We thank Google for seeing the light on this issue. Thanks also go especially to everyone inside and outside the blind community who signed the Google Word Verification Accessibility Petition and took other positive actions to lend their support to this important advocacy effort.

Additional work remains. The audio CAPTCHA has not yet been extended to Blogger and, ultimately, the deaf-blind remain largely shut out. Google has promised implementation of audio CAPTCHA by the end of this month. They are coming in ahead of schedule for most of their services. We trust that Bloggers visual verification will also be made accessible by the end of the month.

There is much work to be done in areas of Google accessibility going far beyond visual verification. The hiring of two software engineers focusing on accessibility represents another positive step forward on Google’s part. Please stay tuned for further developments.