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Visual Verification: EarthLink Implements Audio CAPTCHA for spamBlocker, Tears Down "No Blind People Allowed" Sign

March 8, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

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.

2 opinions on “Visual Verification: EarthLink Implements Audio CAPTCHA for spamBlocker, Tears Down "No Blind People Allowed" Sign

  1. Hi Darrell and others. This is good news for Earthlink customers with a visual impairment. Another CAPTCHA issue has popped into my mind. Just a few minutes ago I was trying to create a personalized account over on, because I’ve been having some difficulty checking my email from remote locations. Upon clicking on the link that says “Personal Home Page,” there is a form to fill out. At the end of the form, before the Continue button is a security question which doesn’t appear to work with screen readers. I couldn’t find a contact email address, but maybe that’s because I’m using another person’s computer and am in kind of a hurry. I will also post this to the BAJ email list.

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