Chances are that sometime in the last year, you've signed up for an email, blogging or other online account. When you did, you may have had to fill out a box with a prompt something like this: "Fill in the box with the numbers and letters provided." If you're sighted, this probably wasn't a big deal. The letters may have been blurry, but you probably did fine reading them. But if you have a visual impairment, this can be a serious problem. As you probably know, I access the computer with a piece of software which reads what's being sent to the screen. I can read quite a bit of information with it, but it can't identify pictures without what's called an "alt tag" which tells it what the picture (or graphic) is. Using an alt tag would probably defeat the purpose of these boxes since a spammer could automatically find the alt tag using whatever program they use to create bogus accounts. So basically, when I get these fill in the box things (known as CAPTCHA's), I am out of luck.
Some companies provide audio or other alternatives (I've seen some which make you do a simple math problem or something like that). Unfortunately,
doesn't do this. The Google web site is very clean and easy to use for searches, but the new services (
and others), use these codes very liberally. You can't sign up for accounts with Google without using these. Therefore, Spammeres can't get in as easily, but it also shuts me and others who are blind out. This means I have to go find someone to help me with this piece of the account-sign-up process.
The Blind Access Journal's Editor has created a petition which will be sent to Google's CEO to ask Google to provide an alternative way of accessing Google these anti-spam measures which will allow us to independently sign up for services, comment in blogs and do what we need or want to do using Google's services.
You can sign the petition at
I hope you'll seriously consider doing so, even if this doesn't effect you.
Oh, one more thing. You can see and give input to the cover letter being sent with the petition at