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Visual Verification: Finally Tears Down "No Blind People Allowed" Sign, Makes Credit Reports Accessible to Blind Consumers

February 9, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

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.

3 opinions on “Visual Verification: Finally Tears Down "No Blind People Allowed" Sign, Makes Credit Reports Accessible to Blind Consumers

  1. Oh, for Christ sakes Darrell. Do you honestly believe there are no more important issues affecting blind people than visual word verification? The problem is annoying, that’s for sure. But between ranting about how it is a purposeful attempt to keep blind people out of a website, or telling us how we will all end up homeless due to it, all I can say is, get a life! Get a sighted friend to help you. Send as many letters to whomever you wish. And stop ranting about it!

  2. Why is your comment anonymous? Why wouldn’t you want your name associated with your comments? Do you have something to hide or is there, perhaps, something wrong with your argument?

    If it is acceptable to require sighted assistance in order to be granted access to a site protected with a visual only CAPTCHA, then why is any accessibility necessary at all? Why not also require sighted assistance, for example, in order for you to post a comment to this very blog? Why not require sighted help to access your bank account? Let some stranger or even sighted friend get to see your checking account balance? Why do we need accessibility on the job? Won’t there always be a sighted person around to help you? How many sighted people are ready, willing and waiting to help you, right now, in your house, at any time you need it? If your answer to this question is affirmative, then, well, you’re among the fortunate. Karen and I live alone, without another sighted person in this house. A sighted person probably comes over once a week, if even that often. Should I be denied access for a week or longer, simply because I physically lack eye sight, especially when the technology exists for web site operators to do better?

    What this ultimately comes down to, my blind brothers and sisters, is that it is easier to rail against taking action than it is to take action on behalf of your fellow blind person with respect to gaining better accessibility. It is always easier to take the path of least resistance. Is that how we all want to live? Let’s all make that decision right now! I hope most of you will decide to do the right thing. Write letters to people anytime you encounter something that’s inaccessible.

  3. This is another site that we need to insist on an audio alternative to their captcha system. Here a couple of Brighthouse pages that allow the users to access their voice mail. Captcha is required for each login not just account setup and no audio description is provided for image contents.
    Central Florida– Same for Tampabay, etc. They all appear to use the same measures.
    Bakersfield California

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