The trouble with using CAPTCHA Codes is that they keep out more than just spam; They could be keeping your customers away too.
Congress lactated. Pness. Café beefster. Decision nopill.10010 magoos.
No, this is not some mystical communication arriving digitally from a distant galaxy; nor is it a series of typing errors; nor is it some high art concept based on linguistic manipulation (all right, well maybe it is the last one a little bit). No, these are some examples of the dreaded CAPTCHA codes that pop up across the web, destroying the researcher’s train of thought, the writer’s rhythm, or the developer’s creative sequence.
CAPTCHAs, or as the mealy-mouthed breakdown of the acronym reveals – Completely Automated Public Turing tests to tell Computers and Humans Apart, are yet another weed in the Edenic garden of the web, and, increasingly, driving web users to distraction – particularly those with a disability.
Illegible CAPTCHAs = Infuriating (and maybe illegal)
Illegible CAPTCHAs are distressingly common, riling the digital natives and doing unspeakable damage to usability. But, these inconveniences and irritations are magnified immeasurably when you put yourself in the position of a blind user, someone visually impaired or anyone who uses a screen reader system. Whether you’re researching disability insurance or simply catching up with friends, CAPTCHA codes can be serious stumbling blocks.
Similarly, these things become deviously contrived nightmares when you imagine how they appear for web users with dyslexia. Indeed, if you’re a US company and are slipping in CAPTCHAs to eke out villainous spammers, this is potentially a serious violation of the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act. According to the federal register, the Department of Justice is revising regulations and establishing requirements for an accessible internet. Although, as yet, no cases have been filed against CAPTCHA codes or their creators, the Department of Justice can obtain civil penalties of up to $55,000 for the first violation and $110,000 for any subsequent violation.
The apparently random series of letters and numbers (or a mix thereof) that make up CAPTCHAs are already confusing enough. Add to that an impairment or disability which makes the deciphering of these codes either physically impossible or unnecessarily challenging and you have yourself a very unenjoyable web experience.
Alternatives to CAPTCHA alphanumeric manglings?
So what, if any, are the alternative solutions to CAPTCHAs that take into account the needs of all users, not just those of with able mind or body? Fortunately, some websites have started including an audio option with their CAPTCHA graphics. Working on the premise that humans can decipher recordings and computers can’t, these CAPTCHAs are a day-saver for anyone who struggles to decipher warped words. However, if you have a hearing impairment, they are totally pointless.
Moreover, the demands placed upon the short-term memory of the user are frankly ill-educated. Whilst evidently, it’s challenging to create a CAPTCHA system that takes into account the needs of every web-user, there must be a simpler way of identifying a human from a computer?
Like most things in life, it requires a little imagination. From simple maths equations to full on gamification, the guys at areyouahuman.com are working tirelessly to end the unidentifiable CAPTCHA code for good.
“None of the current CAPTCHA solutions were able to consistently stop automated attacks,” says Tyler, company founder of Are You a Human and certified human being “— not to mention how unpleasant they were for users to interact with. Sites were stuck in a catch-22: the more they tried to stump bots by making CAPTCHA more difficult, the more they confused human users and drove them away. There had to be a better solution: something dynamic and complex enough to block bots, yet simple and fun for actual people. So…why not use a game?”
Indeed, now you can make lemonade or add toppings to pizza to prove your sentience. It’s a vast improvement to some of the mind-alteringly unnatural CAPTCHA codes that have found their way onto the web in recent years and hopefully, will benefit those who struggle to identify them.
Whilst it’s true that most CAPTCHAs keep the bots at bay, it’s also true that they are directed at users without physical or mental disabilities. Thankfully, these issues are being recognised and now, there are more disabled options accompanying CAPTCHA codes than ever before. Here’s to more of the same!
About The Author
Emily Buchanan is a writer and editor living in Norwich, UK. She specialises in outdoor education, the environment and the cultural impact of digitalisation. Outside of work, she cuddles cats and sketches strangers.
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