Replacing captchas with audio questions makes the web more accessible

Captchas based on visual tasks often prevent people with disabilities from accessing the protected content. — Photo: Zacharie Scheurer/dpa

BERLIN: "Select all images with cars," the website asks you, showing a cluster of photos to choose from.

Or you might be ask to decipher a row of askew characters, another common test to determine whether the user is human.

Captchas – or Completely Automated Public Turing tests – are frequently used to prevent hackers from abusing online services with the help of bots.

While this method has indeed proven successful in preventing someone from hacking your account with hundreds of automated attempts, for example, it also prevents people with disabilities from accessing the protected service.

Without help, there is no way for blind or visually impaired users to solve a captcha, according to the German Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted (DBSV).

When creating a website or managing an existing one, you should therefore also add audio-based alternatives to make your content accessible to as many people as possible.

One possible option are audio captchas, meaning tasks that are read aloud. The answer can then be typed.

However, existing standard solutions are often available in English only or use distorted voices, which poses new problems for people with a hearing impairment or without foreign language skills, says the DBSV.

Instead, simple knowledge questions read out loud could be an option, says the DBSV, adding that the most important thing is to always provide alternatives for those with disabilities. – dpa

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