Sight-Impaired Users Have Problems with Registration Process at Google

“Is Google Shutting Out The Blind?” by Susan Kuchinskas at, reports that some sight-impaired Internet users are having problems with the “captchas” that Google uses when registering for a Google account thats required to access Gmail and other services.

What’s a captcha and why does Google (and other sites) use them?

Google uses captchas during registration for the many betas and non-search offerings, such as and Gmail. Captcha is an acronym for “completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart.” Developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, they’re used to separate the humans from bots in Web site registrations, preventing large-scale automated registrations that can then be used to send spam.

Google’s Marissa Mayer tells Kuchinskas that the company is aware of the problem and will be releasing alternatives in the next month or two.

The article points out that MSN and Yahoo already provide alternatives. MSN’s captchas can be read by screen readers while Yahoo provides a service that allows sight-impaired users to register by telephone.

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