CAPTCHAs are tests often placed at the end of online forms designed to tell if a user is human. They are used to enhance security and prevent spam or false registrations. While convenient for website providers, they often pose an impenetrable barrier for people who are blind, vision impaired, dyslexic or have a cognitive disability.
ACCAN, along with Media Access Australia, has been campaigning to see the end of CAPTCHAs across the web. Since August last year, a petition launched by ACCAN’s Wayne Hawkins has been signed by 3,840 people. The petition called on some of the world’s largest website owners, including Google and Facebook, to stop using CAPTCHAs. In December, Telstra announced it would be phasing out CAPTCHAs across its organisation.
To compel other companies to follow Telstra’s lead, ACCAN has provided a letter which people affected by CAPTCHA can download, personalise and send. It reads: “Websites which are inaccessible risk disability discrimination complaints under Australian legislation. Please consider changing the security on your website by removing the inaccessible CAPTCHA and replacing it with an accessible alternative.”
If you send a letter let us know on Twitter and use the #KillCAPTCHA hashtag.
Making sites secure and accessible
There are a number of ways website developers can make forms secure without putting up barriers for people with disability. Before implementing a CAPTCHA, developers should explore other options such as honeypot tests. If a CAPTCHA is necessary, it should be done in the most accessible way. Detailed instructions are available in our CAPTCHA: accessibility for developers guide on Access iQ.
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