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MySpace Ignores and Locks Out the Blind, Puts Up "No Blind People Allowed" Sign

May 2, 2007 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

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.

6 opinions on “MySpace Ignores and Locks Out the Blind, Puts Up "No Blind People Allowed" Sign

  1. Hi Daryl

    I could not find a space to leave comments on your Blog, but just to say
    I have written to My Space by sending a message via their contact form
    about the visual verification.


    I am a very experienced visually impaired computer user.  I wanted to
    sign up for an account with My Space.  However unfortunately, it appears
    that the second stage of the sign up process involves a process commonly
    known as “visual verification”.  This requires that a potential user
    types the figures depicted within a graphical image which is
    inaccessible to screen-readers.  Screen-reading software delivers the
    contents of the computer display using both synthetic speech and/or
    Braille output.

    You may be unaware of the need to ensure that sites should be accessible
    to disabled people and, prior to taking further legal advice on this
    matter, I am giving you the courtesy and the opportunity of either
    ensuring the site is accessible via an audio representation of the
    figures being delivered for people with low vision or, alternatively,
    the possibility of contacting a human representative who will be in a
    position to verify the account for me.

    I am hopeful that you will give your attention to this matter and I look
    forward to receiving a response within the immediate future.

    Very best Regards.

    Brian Hartgen 

  2. Darrell, I have also contacted Myspace on 02-09-2007 regarding there “visual verification” process. I am unable to find the copy of the email that I sent
    to them at this time. I, of course, never received a response from them. I was able to get an account with Myspace with the assistance of my Wife who is
    able to see. But of course, this is totally unacceptable to me. As we shouldn’t have to rely on those in the sighted world, nor our loved one’s to do what
    we should be able to do for ourselves with a little help from companies such as Myspace And of course as we all know, there are plenty of others out there. I
    would also like to take  this opportunity to thank you for your continued, tireless, hard work on issues such as these. Hopefully issues such as these
    will continue to disappear, or at least get easier for all of us in the future. With your continued great work.
    Sean Paul
    News and Traffic Reporter
    Citadel communications of Chattanooga

  3. Hi Daryl!

    Just read your blog entry re: myspace and the whole captcha issue; as of May 3rd, 2007, there is still no alternative method provided if one cannot see the characters presented. I should note that I am sighted, and I still have some trouble distinguishing the characters presented. I guess MySpace assumes that everyone is a 20-something with perfect 20/20 vision.

  4. I’ve come across this to everytime I forget my password and it makes me crazy ever with ZoomText and the brightness down I still can’t see the visual verification. By the way the site is overlapping as I type this hard to read. That’s weird.

  5. My blind brother loves music and hasn't found a way to take control the music-player in Myspace. Thats frustrating for him. He simply can't listen to the music at myspace. Earlier the music player started automatically so he at least heard the songs in a row. But that has stopped (in Myspace-Sweden at least). He can't listen to myspace music anymore. Loads of blind people of course loves music but also have jobs that are sound/music related. He works as a music teacher, guitar, bas, recording, mixing etc and loads of his students uploads their music to myspace. However he can't hear it without help.
    The Captcha (visual verification) is a problem for him as well, i general. He use Jaws.

  6. Well, I'm sure MySpace and other online companies and communities would add an audio captcha if served with a lawsuit or pressured from an association like the AFB.

    I can completely understand everything you said in your blog post, as I am visually impaired as well and use JAWS to navigate my computer and te internet.

    A good friend of mine is a lawyer, and we have actually discussed filing some suits against companies like myspace who do not make their websites accessible to people with disabilities, especially people like us, who are either blind or with a visual impairment.

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