D-Link will soon provide audio CAPTCHA and change the login default on its routers to make them more accessible to customers with disabilities.

In a May 12 press release, D-Link announced that it was the first company to add CAPTCHA to its routers as a means of protecting users against new threats. These potential security breaches are serious. “A series of recent Internet security attacks on home and small office computers are compromising networks where users least expect it – their routers. These malicious software invasions, in which users unknowingly download a Trojan horse when performing common tasks, invade the router to detect wireless capabilities, then alter the victim’s domain name system (DNS) records so that all future traffic is diverted through the attackers’ network first”, states the press release.

“We’re excited to be the first in the market to announce we have taken the initiative to implement CAPTCHA into our routers, thus providing yet another layer of security to our customers,” said AJ Wang, chief technology officer of D-Link.

The press release goes on to explain “the term CAPTCHA is an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. CAPTCHA is a type of challenge-response test used in computing to ensure that responses are generated by humans, not computers. A common type of CAPTCHA requires the user to type letters or numbers from a distorted image that appears on the screen.”

Concerned that blind and visually impaired customers may be unable to access the company’s routers, accessibility advocates quickly reacted. “We did hear from our customer base that there was some concern on the CAPTCHA implementation,” said Dan Kelley, D-Link’s senior director of marketing.

Kelley said a beta version of the firmware is now available that disables the CAPTCHA by default. It will be officially released as an update to all customers once it has undergone the necessary testing. Users will be able to access the router without the CAPTCHA requirement after unboxing. They may explicitly enable the security enhancement through the web user interface as part of the setup process.

“We’re also going to be creating an audio version of the CAPTCHA which will be available in as soon as three to six weeks,” Kelley said. “You can press the button and it will read off the letters that you need to enter rather than having you read them off the screen.”

Effective accessibility evangelism may have helped D-Link executives understand the need for these changes. “In my discussions, I do remember that the audio version was already being planned but now I think that everything’s being a little bit more expedited realizing that there’s been some concern in terms of the feedback of the market,” said Kelley. “We have heard from a couple of customers who need this and we have been able to take care of them promptly.”

Companies like D-Link closely monitor their customer base and the overall technology marketplace for trends, including those pointing to greater accessibility. “We’re going to be paying close attention to what others in the industry are doing in terms of making improvements to CAPTCHA,” Kelley said. “We are always paying attention to customers whether through direct e-mail, on Facebook or on blogs.”

In keeping with its “Building Networks for People” tagline, D-Link is willing to consider additional accessibility enhancements in response to customer feedback. “If there’s anything that would help us figure out a way to make an improvement we’d be glad to hear it.” said Joe Melfi, D-Link’s associate director of business solutions.