Telstra marks International Day of People with Disability by killing CAPTCHA

Australian Communication Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) congratulates Telstra on its plan to delete discriminatory online CAPTCHA tests from its websites and encourages other providers and businesses to follow suit.

Telstra’s decision to delete CAPTCHA tests is included in their 6th Disability Action Plan, launched today on the International Day of People with Disability. It follows ACCAN’s “kill CAPTCHA” petition launched in August.

CAPTCHA tests require web users to fill out a box with squiggly numbers and letters to prove they are human. Unfortunately, the tests block out millions of people who are blind or vision impaired from many online activities as their screen reading software is unable to read the CAPTCHAs. Alternative audio CAPTCHAs are provided but they are just as inaccessible due to the use of a distorted voice and background noise.

“CAPTCHA tests fundamentally fail to recognise people with disability as human. We are pleased that Telstra have taken the lead on this issue and we encourage other providers and businesses in Australia to kill their CAPTCHAs too,” said ACCAN disability policy advisor Wayne Hawkins.

ACCAN is also encouraged by another component of Telstra’s 6th Disability Action Plan – to include accessibility as a requirement in their ICT tenders. ACCAN has been a leading voice on accessible ICT procurement, having previously called on government to adopt this strategy as it would increase the employment opportunities for people with disability and result in cheaper and more available accessible products and services. This policy was also recommended by the recent IT pricing parliamentary inquiry.

“Government and big business can really lead the way in helping people with disability get employed and stay in the workforce. Their enormous purchasing power can also stimulate the market to give us greater choices and cheaper prices for accessible products and services,” said Mr Hawkins.

About one in five Australians have some form of permanent disability.