[accessibleimage] Re: Please support web access to visual verification systems

  • From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: accessibleimage@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2006 09:21:24 -0500

...and when you consider that image verification is hackable, it's not really that good of a solution anyway...

Jonnie Apple Seed
With his:
Hands-On Technolog(eye)s

On Jan 15, 2006, at 9:13 AM, Kaizen Program wrote:

Thank you, Chris, for this additional information.

I strongly support all moves toward full web access for everyone. And, I
encountered this problem last night with Yahoo. So, I am very glad that this
issue is being addressed. However, I cannot sign the petition until it is
altered to indicate the
audio alternative should not be offered as the sole work around. As a person
who is currently totally blind and has a slight hearing impairment, enough
to make it difficult to distinguish consonants in distorted broadcasts,
phone conversations or audio recordings, the audio alternative
suggested would not really be an accessible alternative for me. And, even if
I did not
have a hearing impairment, I think it is important for us to never support
solutions that leave out some realistic access for deaf-blind people.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Chris Hofstader" <chris.hofstader@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <accessibleimage@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, January 15, 2006 4:03 AM
Subject: [accessibleimage] Re: Please support web access to visual
verification systems

I will happily sign this but I will also send this along to a friend of mine
who is working on image analysis software to solve this specific problem.
His thesis is that the problem is less the Turing tests themselves but,
rather, the lack of innovation or will by the screen reader manufacturers to
even try to create an intelligent agent that can figure out the text in
these somewhat obfuscated graphics. His work has shown a 95-97% level of
accuracy with these bitmaps and, once they have it converted to a to a plug
in for IE, they'll announce and make it available to people who want it.

After fighting the document accessibility and screen reader innovation wars
for six years, I left FS to work on more future oriented projects. I truly
believe that the major screen reader companies have given up trying to do
any real innovation and are ignoring problems like these graphics and
complaining that they present problems that cannot be solved. I think that
the "impossible" excuse has been worn out so badly that its use is nearly
laughable. One screen reader company has an overwhelming dominant position
so doesn't need to innovate to make money and the others are too small to
have the dollars or the ability to take risks on moving the art forward.
The result is that we blinks are screwed until something changes in the
approach by the established companies or a new player comes along and, to
break into the market, must do something radically new and exciting to
distinguish themselves and offer a reason for users, agencies, governments
etc. to switch.

I think we're seeing the start of the trend to the new companies pushing the
innovation bar up. Serotek with Freedom Box System Access and Code Factory
with Mobile Speak Pocket are doing some extremely interesting things and
taking a lot of risks by playing against the establishment players. It's
yet to be seen if they can cause a tectonic shift in the AT landscape

Sorry for rambling, this is one of my real hot button issues though.


-----Original Message-----
From: accessibleimage-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:accessibleimage-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Tina E
Sent: Sunday, January 15, 2006 6:41 AM
To: accessibleimage@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [accessibleimage] Please support web access to visual verification

Dear list members, friends, and colleagues:

Though this web accessibility issue might not be directly related to
the main topic(s) of the list, I would ask those of you who are
willing, to please sign the petition whose URL is below, concerning
web pages that contain inaccessible graphical word verification
systems, also known as CAPTCHA.  These systems are becoming more
widely implemented, in order to validate that a human is filling out
the given form to obtain services or information.  This is typically
done by having the user look at a graphic or picture on the screen,
and then copy the exact text by typing it into an edit box.  Unless an
accessible alternative means of verification is provided, blind
computer users are essentially denied independent access to any
information or service which is provided, once this correct string of
characters would be entered.  Since sighted people aren't necessarily
always present and readily available to assist and read the text, this
graphical word verification scheme, (CAPTCHA), is proving to be a
significant and  ever-growing information barrier to a variety of web
services.  This petition specifically addresses Google, and some of
the services they offer, GMail for instance, which require
verification by means of visual examination of a word presented in a
picture, a task which is currently impossible for screen-reading
software for the blind.

The petition is entitled:

"Google Word Verification Accessibility"

It is hosted on the web by PetitionOnline.com, a free online petition
service, at the following URL:


More Background:

Access to an increasing number of services for blind or deaf-blind
people is severely hampered by websites that use the graphical word
verification (CAPTCHA) system, without providing another alternative
independent and timely means of verification.  Such websites include,
but are certainly not limited to, popular services such as
YahooGroups, Blogger, Yahoo Email, etc.

A handful of websites have a work-around, such as automated
verification via Email, or a feature to play a sound file containing
the characters to be typed instead, for those who are unable to read
the picture.  Microsoft's Passport system, for example, provides an
alternative using information presented in a (sometimes rather
garbled!) sound file.  Though this is not the best implementation of a
solution, (particularly for those with both limited hearing and
vision), it is preferable to various widely-used sites that have no
realistically independent means of getting around having to see the
word pictured in the graphic, in order to type those characters in the
edit box.

Following is some additional information that the author of this
petition, Darrell Shandrow, has provided to me:

*** Begin quote ***

Numerous companies offer their services in a way that already provides
accessible alternatives to their visual verification systems, by way
of an audio playback of the characters to be entered.  Examples of
such companies include:

AOL's Instant Messenger


and SpamArrest

Others, such as 0Spam

offer e-mail confirmation that only requires an active e-mail address,
a quite accessible and screen-reader-friendly alternative solution.

Sadly, many companies, including EarthLink's anti-spam features,
Google and Yahoo, offer no way to independently pass their visual
verification tests to gain access to their services.

*** End quote ***

I, Tina, wholeheartedly agree with the spirit of this petition, and I hope that you will choose to join me in my support for equal access for all web users. If you can spare a moment, please take a look, and please consider signing it yourself.

When you go to the petition link noted above, a form will come up, and
all you need to do is fill in your name and Email address, for
purposes of confirmation and verification by the system.  Then, choose
one of the three following Email privacy options: whether you would
like to keep your Email address private, or only visible to the author
of the petition, or if you would like your Email address clickable by
the public as a Sendmail link.  The automatic default is to keep your
Email address private, so do not change any of the radio buttons if
you'd like to keep it this way.

Comments are of course optional, but can be placed in the edit box
provided, if you'd like.

Click, or otherwise activate, the "submit" button, and you're done

Again, here's the link to place your name on the petition, asking
Google to implement an accessible solution for graphical word
verification, Captcha:


Thank you so very kindly, for your active support of this critical
issue, for computer users with any sort of print-reading disability.

Very sincerely,
Tina Ektermanis
Greeley, Colorado, USA

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