Matt McCubbin from Blind Bargains reports that the AnnualCreditReport web site instituted by the Federal Trade Commission and sponsored by the three credit reporting companies has finally decided that blind and visually impaired consumers ought to be granted the same opportunities to review their credit reports online as the sighted have enjoyed for three years. Despite a complete lack of response from the FTC Webmaster to numerous letters from blind individuals, the site now implements an automated, telephone based alternative to their inaccessible visual only CAPTCHA. After selecting the state in which the consumer resides, a link is offered near the bottom of the form pointing to an alternate request page. Once this alternate page is chosen, the user simply completes the form, notes the six digits near the bottom, calls an indicated toll free telephone number, enters the numbers given on the web site, receives another six digits, enters those digits from the automated telephone message into the box and is granted access. Although this solution isn’t inherently perfect for deaf-blind consumers, they can utilize their state’s relay service to complete this transaction.

We are glad the Federal Trade Commission, the three credit reporting companies and all other involved parties have finally brought down this access barier, though we would have appreciated the professionalism and respect of follow up letters to our correspondence. We are also waiting to see if the FTC or the sponsoring credit reporting companies will post a press release concerning this new accessibility accomodation. We believe that any other federally funded web sites featuring inaccessible visual only CAPTCHA or any other accessibility barriers may be at least in violation of Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act, and would welcome any reader comments concerning any such sites.