Unfortunately bloggers are inundated with spam comments. CAPTCHAs – Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart – are frequently used to weed out spambot comments from human comments.
However, because CAPTCHAs are typically images of distorted characters, this information is not accessible to screen readers, leaving people who are blind unable to post a comment. As Darrell Shandrow, a screen reader user, said visual CAPTCHAs are “no blind people allowed” signs.
CAPTCHAs do not keep out only people who are blind. With the distortion of characters or extraneous markings, people with learning disabilities, particularly dyslexia, can have difficulty deciphering what the actual characters are. Likewise, with poor colour contrast, those individuals with colour blindness or low vision can also have difficulty getting past the CAPTCHA step.
Personally, my once perfect vision is nearly forty-four years old and those darn things are stumping me more and more. Other times I don’t bother proceeding.
One alternative is the combination of visual and audio CAPTCHA, such as the reCAPTCHA or the one on Blogger blogs. But have you ever tried listening to those ones? Totally garbled audio! If you happen to be hearing impaired and sight impaired – because disabilities don’t always come in onesies – you are completely hooped! Sorry, your opinions, ideas, expertise – or purchases! – aren’t welcomed here.
What is the solution?
Where possible, avoid using CAPTCHAs to block spam comments. Instead, use Akismet or other spam filters to control that unwanted spam. Make it as easy as possible for all readers to participate in your blog’s community.
If a CAPTCHA is absolutely necessary, use a simple text-based question – like “Which is hot: ice or steam?” – with a form field or dropdown box for the response. The key here is to keep the question simple and straightforward so as to not trip up people with cognitive impairments.
This morning I came across the WordPress plug-in is_human() with three verification methods:
- Standard CAPTCHA Image
- Simple Math Equation
- Simple Custom Questions (with Question Generator)
Please do not use the image option! The other two options might be the best solution available to date, if, indeed, a CAPTCHA is necessary.
Disclaimer: I have yet to test this plug-in and am not yet vouching the plug-in is truly accessible; the concept is accessible. Your feedback is most welcomed.
What is the bottom line?
When using CAPTCHAs, be sure you are blocking spam, not your readers from commenting.