Telstra bans CAPTCHA tests

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Tuesday, 3 December 2013 15:23pm

Australia’s largest telecommunications company Telstra has won the day by announcing it will no longer use CAPTCHA tests on its apps and websites.

The announcement was made as part of its Disability Action Plan, released to mark International Day of People with Disability. CAPCTHAS notoriously present a barrier to many users with disabilities, including those with vision impairment or dyslexia.

In August, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), Media Access Australia and Blind Citizens Australia launched a petition on calling on large companies such as Telstra to remove CAPTCHAS to make their websites more equitable and easy to use for everyone. At the time of writing, the Kill CAPTCHA petition has been signed by 3,500 people.

CAPTCHAs are simple tests which appear on online forms which are designed to determine if a user is human or a computer.  They usually involve a user discerning a string of letters or numbers from a picture. They are used widely across the web and are often seen as a quick fix to make websites more secure. Often, users will experience an accessible website only to fall at the last hurdle when a CAPTCHA appears.

Although audio versions of these tests are often available, many people including petition author Wayne Hawkins find these impossible to use even after 20 attempts.

The World Wide Web Consortium, the organisation which sets website standards, states that CAPTCHAs should not be used because of the accessibility barrier they present. Our Access iQ service provides a guide to web developers looking for alternative ways of making forms secure.

It is hoped that Telstra starts a trend and that other major Australian businesses also ban CAPTCHA tests.

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