One of my tasks as ACB Radio’s volunteer webmaster is to send responses to feedback from listeners. After sending a note to an EarthLink customer this morning, I promptly received one of the company’s dreaded invitations to add my e-mail address to the customer’s approved senders list, so that my response and all future correspondence could be delivered successfully. In the past, these messages linked to a request form containing an inaccessible CAPTCHA (visual verification) that did not permit blind and visually impaired people to add themselves to the approved senders list of any EarthLink customer. The result was that some e-mail senders were not permitted to communicate with EarthLink customers with spamBlocker configured at its maximum level of protection, simply due to their physical lack of eye sight. On July 18, 2006, I wrote an article entitled Visual Verification Accessibility: Nobody Home at Earthlink covering exactly this issue.

This morning, I noticed an important difference in the request form linked from the invitation. An audio CAPTCHA has been included, now affording blind and visually impaired users the opportunity to request communication with all the company’s customers, regardless of spamBlocker settings. It turns out that, according to an update announcement posted to the company’s Web Mail Blog, the audio CAPTCHA was added on November 3, 2006. I am glad to see this issue finally resolved after almost three years of inaccessibility, and appreciate EarthLink’s reasonable audio playback CAPTCHA implementation.