In response to my recent attempts to initiate positive dialogue with Sirius Satellite Radio concerning their visual verification scheme, Patrick Reilly, the company’s Senior Vice President of Communications, reported that the issue was resolved on Tuesday night, June 27, through the implementation of an audio CAPTCHA. In answer to Mr. Reilly’s query, Senior Web Producer Brock Boddie wrote the following:

Audio CAPTCHA was launched last night. A sight impaired user using a screen reader should now be able to log into our media player. If one is to click on the speaker image next to the field that says “enter the text as shown in the box below”, they should hear a sequence of numbers that should then be entered into the aforementioned text field. The audio CAPTCHA will not match the image, but it will grant a user access to the player if entered correctly.

We appreciate the prompt responsive action on the part of Serius Satellite Radio to once again allow its blind and visually impaired customers access to the company’s online services. We hope and expect that other companies will follow examples such as this by providing accessible alternatives to visual verification on web sites and that web developers will proactively consider the impact of these schemes on customers with disabilities by building in appropriate accessibility accomodations at the beginning of the design process rather than as an after thought in response to strenuous, persistent advocacy.