A Rant: Visual Verification - AS IT HAPPENS
Mon, Aug. 7th, 2006
11:18 am - A Rant: Visual Verification
Now, I don't know if anyone with real power is reading this, but I will write it here anyway. I wrote an article on The Internetjust a week or two ago, but this topic is so important that my failing to mention it is quite surprising to me. It occurred to me to discuss this issue after listening to the July 21st episode of Shelly's Podcast, a show which you all are probably aware that I love.
For the blind and visually impaired, the Net has brought unprecedented access to the world. We can now buy tickets, go shopping, and even create blogs like this one with the ease of the rest of the general population. It is a major reason why I have been able to live independently with my blind cousin, paying bills and taking care of most other essential tasks in this space.
However, do to the proliferation of spam, mainly through the creation of all sorts of fake websites and accounts, many organizations have decided to adopt the system of visual word verification, which as you all no doubt know, requires you to see and type a series of characters into a box. While this may not be much of a chalenge for sighted people, for blind and visually impaired folks it creates a nearly impossible barrier to the rest of the site we are trying to access.
As Shelly stated, I too had tried to create a MySpace account, but was met with this barrier. And as far as I could tell, there was no other way around it, I just had to give up on the idea altogether. And while I wouldn't deem such an account as something to which I must have access, if this monster continues to grow without control, it can easily move into sectors that I am currently using and benefitting from.
I like what Google has done, creating an audio link to hear a list of numbers that can be typed into the box. This resulted from an online petition drawn up by another blind individual who wanted to see change, and amazingly, got a big company to listen to his protestations. However, to petition every site with verification would be a time consuming endeavor, so I hope to at least in some small way make the general public understand the problem and to fix it at its source. I don't honestly know if I should expect much though, I am very aware that the blind are just not a major priority to big business anyway, since they don't generally hurt by the loss of our dollars. But if one isn't willing to drop that pebble in the water, then how can he or she expect the waves of change to come?