Guest post from ACCAN: Re-inventing reCAPTCHA

I have always had a keen interest in promoting greater adoption of accessible digital formats to make sure the web is available to everyone. As someone who is blind and uses a screen-reader to navigate the web, Google’s reCAPTCHA often created a barrier for me when I was trying to access some websites.
Last year, I started a campaign to raise awareness about the challenges of CAPTCHA technology for people with disabilities. Today, I’m pleased to say that the re-invented reCAPTCHA strikes the balance between keeping websites safe from computer bots, spam and malicious activity, while ensuring that the internet remains accessible for people with vision impairment.

In discussions with Google, I learned that they were working on making reCAPTCHA more usable and human friendly. The new technology uses “advanced risk analysis techniques” to differentiate between human users and bots.

This re-invented reCAPTCHA allows people with vision impairment to more easily access secure websites, while it continues to digitise the world’s printed material at the same time. I can now clearly understand the audio test and I have been able to successfully access websites with reCAPTCHA security.

While there may still be people who have both vision and hearing impairments who will continue to struggle to have full unfettered access to the web, Google has done a good job in turning what was a frustrating and often inaccessible website feature into a user-friendly web security tool.