There are a number of blind and visually impaired people who have written to me privately and to various e-mail discussion groups concerning the current accessibility challenges with the popular MySpace blogging and social networking web site. The most critical and immediate issue is a CAPTCHA (visual verification) appearing as part of the signup process. This CAPTCHA does not feature audio or any other method of gaining access if you are not able to see the characters you must enter into the edit box in order to register. Many blind and visually impaired people, including myself, have contacted MySpace over the past year. All such attempts at contact have been completely ignored.

It is clear that the staff of MySpace do not see fit to show even an ounce of professional courtesy toward blind and visually impaired people by responding to media queries and other attempts at contact. We must all put MySpace on notice that CAPTCHA (visual verification) without audio or some other alternative way for blind people to complete the signup process locks out the blind and visually impaired in a manner similar to the “no blacks allowed” signs during the era of segregation. While it may be clearly understood that this visual only CAPTCHA was initially put in place out of ignorance of the accessibility issue, continued disregard of our needs despite our goodfaith attempts at contact represents clear and deliberate discrimination against us.

It is certainly not too late for the MySpace people to make the conscious decision to simply do the right thing in this case. Implement an audio playback of the CAPTCHA and supply an e-mail address or other contact information where people with disabilities may receive human assistance when it does not work as expected, the user happens to be deaf-blind, etc. I urge all of you whom have not already done so to contact MySpace to register your accessibility concerns and ask the company to do the right thing.