The issues with CAPTCHA

Last updated: May 28, 2016

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Back in 2009, we published a post called "New Logical Captcha Plugins for WordPress". One of those plugins is no longer available. Since 2009 there have been many articles and discussions about using CAPTCHA and new plugins developed for preventing spam. Those maintaining websites need to prevent damage to their sites due to unwanted spam, yet these prevention methods often keep out legitimate site visitors, too.

We collected a list of a few articles and discussions about the issues with CAPTCHA. If you have slapped a CAPTCHA solution onto your site without considering what problems you might be causing legitimate visitors, you really need to take some time to read and learn from these articles. Note that many of them include even more links about the challenges. Kudos to the people working to resolve this long-standing problem with security solutions blocking legitimate visitors. There is still lots of work to do, so please consider sharing your knowledge or experience in the comments.

Articles and Discussions

Plugins

Here is a list of some plugins that claim to be accessible or user-friendly. Based on some of the discussions in the previous list, none of them are perfect solutions. Some claim to avoid issues for one disability, yet they still have issues for other disabilities. For example, do the logic-based tests consider issues with cognitive or learning disabilities? Let us know what you are using these days and why. [Someone once suggested an accessible slider as part of a CAPTCHA solution, but we couldn’t find that link. Please share it in the comments if you know what happened to that project.]

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U.S. Justice Department Demands Accessible Educational Technology

Last updated: May 23, 2015

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May 19, 2015, Posted by John Kleeman to the Questionmark blog.

The U.S. Justice Department intervened in a case last week regarding accessible learning technology that could help make educational technology more accessible for learners with disabilities. They are intervening in a court case between a blind learner and Miami University where the university has required all students to use specific online tools that are not accessible. Read more about this at http://blog.questionmark.com/us-justice-department-demands-accessible-educational-technology.

Questionmark’s mission is to provide the highest quality testing and assessment software and support services to enable individuals and organizations reach their goals.

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PlainLanguage.gov

Last updated: March 10, 2015

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A History of Plain Language in Government Communications

President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act of 2010 (.pdf) on October 13, 2010. The law requires that federal agencies use “clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.”

On January 18, 2011, President Obama issued a new Executive Order, “E.O. 13563 – Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review. (.pdf). It states that “[our regulatory system] must ensure that regulations are accessible, consistent, written in plain language, and easy to understand.”

Two other executive orders signed by President Clinton in 1996 cover the use of plain language in regulations: E.O. 12866 (.pdf) and E.O. 12988 (.pdf).

The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is a community of federal employees dedicated to the idea that citizens deserve clear communications from government. In the 1990s they started giving examples for Federal plain language guidelines. This evolved into the PlainLanguage.gov website. For information about PlainLanguage.gov, see their About Us page.

Download PL.gov's Federal Plain Language Guidelines (.pdf) or Word.

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