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My accessibility nightmare! Part1 Image Captcha

Having acquired a print disability at the age of 35 I was introduced to a world of assistive technology and was trained in a technology called a screen reader. This technology enabled me to access the digital world with the help of a text to speech interface with destop/ smart phone applications/ websites navigation aided by keyboard/ touch.


The screen readers that I use are:

On my desktop/ laptop: NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access) and JAWS (Job Access With Speech)

On my smart phone: VoiceOver for IOS


However, to enable complete accessibility of applications and websites the applications and websites need to be WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) compliant; otherwise I am introduced to barriers due to inaccessiblity. In this article I am sharing with you accessibility barriers and nightmares I have using the many digital resources with the help of my screen reader.


Image Captcha: This one tops my list of nightmares. Since I cannot read the swiggly letters/ numbers in the image Captcha I am unable to solve them and prove that I am not a robot. Many a times I have completed a form online and in the end of it found myself struggling to submit it due to this digital barrier called the Image Captcha. The image Captcha is not only a barrier for those who use screen readers but also for people with weak eye sight mainly the elderly. This barrier can be eliminated by providing alternative ways to validate if you are human; I discuss them below for your understanding.


Text Captcha: This is one easy way to authenticate by providing a simple math problem like 2+2 = and the user has to input the result in the edit box to validate.

Email Verification: This is another easy way to authenticate by asking the user to enter their registered mail ID and getting a link in their mail to validate

OTP: This is another accessible way to authenticate by sending a one time password which is usually a 4 or 6 digit number to the users mobile phone and the user has to input that number in the edit box provided in the application/ webpage

Audio Captcha: This is a very common alternative way to validate the Captcha if you are print disabled the user has to listen to an audio clip which has more than 3 words said and type them in the edit box on the webpage. For better accessibility the words spoken should not be distorted and clear to the listener and the user should have the ability to type in the words heard in no particular order


References for further reading:

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview

NVDA Screen Reader Overview

JAWS Screen Reader Overview


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