E-mail List Archives

Re: Accessible Captcha recommendations?

for

From: deborah.kaplan@suberic.net
Date: Jul 30, 2015 6:42AM


Before my tl;dr rant about ReCaptcha's steadily diminishing accessibility, a plug for TextCaptcha:

http://textcaptcha.com/

The problems with TextCaptcha are:

1. This particular service is English-language only, so it is language dependent. There might be similar alternatives which allow language configurability.
2. It absolutely has cognitive implications.

However, it is accessible to with screen readers, braille readers, keyboards, and voice, without any particular technology. It's a service that asks an English-language question that has been made just convoluted enough to become annoying for bots to automatically solve, for example:

- How many colours in the list purple, penguin, blue, white and red?
- What is 1 + six?
- What number is 2nd in the series 35, 19 and thirty two?

You can see why it has cognitive accessibility implications. But out-of-the-box, with no developer effort, it works with any adaptive technology.

See it in action at https://www.dreamwidth.org/create

As for ReCaptcha!

The new ReCaptcha is even worse than the old one, at least in the examples that Google links to from their blog post, for example this one:

https://account.oneplus.net/sign-up

I keep wondering if all of the demo instances I could find were misconfigured (although I will point out they were all linked to from the Google announcement of the new service), because I can't imagine they didn't accessibility test this at all. And yet, as far as I can tell, they didn't accessibility test this at all.

All of the demo instances I could find of the new version were completely inaccessible by keyboard, and the audio capture is the same terrible, inaudible garbled mess on the old ReCaptcha. (If you're sighted and have never tried to solve an audio ReCaptcha, I recommend trying, so you can get a better sense of what audio alternative really means in this instance.)

The problem is that the way the new ReCaptcha improves the experience for everyone is an algorithm that identifies mouse movement on the page to get a sense of whether or not you are human. Therefore, most people never get the verification; they just check the box. However, screen reader, keyboard, and voice users, who access the "I'm a human" checkbox without ever triggering the mouse movement that tells the algorithm they are human, will always get the second stage verification.

The second stage verification gives you the choice between the old-style, inaudible audio ReCaptcha, or a visual pop-up that asks you to do something such as "choose all the hamburgers from this list of nine visually busy thumbnail images." Not only is the process visually and cognitively tricky (I got it wrong multiple times, and I am sighted and don't have a cognitive disability), but I have not found a demo that is in any way navigable by screen reader or keyboard. At all. (Presumably screen reader users are expected to be using the audio, but I'm not sure what's supposed to happen for keyboard and voice users, and besides, expecting screen reader users to always be using the audio is a misunderstanding of who uses screen readers.)

It doesn't help that the keyboard focus is nigh-invisible in the second stage verification.

I don't understand why they didn't make the second stage verification just be the old-style ReCaptcha. It wouldn't improve things at all for completely blind screen reader users, but at least keyboard and voice users wouldn't be actively worse off. :(

At least it is not the accessibility horrorshow which is KeyCaptcha (https://www.keycaptcha.com/), which requires a mouse, is completely screen reader inaccessible, and doesn't even have an alternative.

Deborah Kaplan

On Thu, 30 Jul 2015, Nancy Johnson wrote:

> Is ReCaptcha still recommended or is there a more accessible one that
> is better?
>
> I understand the updated version has some accessibility issues.
>
> Thanks
>
> Nancy
> > > > --