Thursday, January 12, 2006

Google, Accessibility and Spam.

I loathe spam. My first email account was with hotmail. I had to have an email account, as I was emailing out resumes and needed an electronic contact point. Within days the parade of filth began cascading through my inbox. My name was clearly for a female, but somebody thought I was "hot for those naked beauties...". I had to read the brief header to find my real email. Reading, while not painful for me, is more work than it is for most people. I see about 1 inch square, with a magnifier attached to glasses. I move my head back and forth to cover a line of print on my screen. I use speech when I do not need to intensely study something. Spam steals my energy to no good purpose. Can I get a witness out there? Anyone else ticked off?

When I set up my blog. I did not want to have to deal with 'fake' comments made to my blog. These are registered users of blogger, who aren't real people, but electronically generated spammers. Once they have a blogger account, blogger has a problem determining where its true customers are, verses these 'fake' customers. I'm sure driven by a desperate desire to maintain their actual customers, Blogger set up a 'copy the letters in the box' task. I went for it because I do not desire to have to constantly moderate comments, deleting the garbage. But, to do this violates another very important part of me.

I want my blog and anything associated with it to be absolutely accessible to my totally blind readers. I got an email asking me to sign a protest petition to Google to get them to change the 'letters in the box' task to something where the totally blind, using a screen reader can access, not just blogger, but all the other fine Google services. I have removed the 'letters in the box' task, but still require comments from registered blogger users. To make my comments open to anyone will flood my inbox with a host of comments I then must moderate, to delete the spam! I just don't have enough time for that! The problem of spam is also why I choose not to have contact information. I am also not a counselor, and I'm sure some real email from my readers would tempt me to try to counsel. Again, I just don't have the time.

Please investigate signing the petition to Google. I like Google and am sad that so many totally blind folks I personally know are blocked from signing up for Gmail because of the "letters in the box" task.

Here is a portion of an email detailing the problem and the petition:

> Hi all podcasters,

Please visit , sign the Google Word
> Verification Accessibility Petition and cover this issue on your podcasts.
> Many podcasters, myself included, use Blogger to drive the feeds and
> shownotes to their audio and text content. Google's word verification
> scheme is currently inaccessible, barring the blind and visually impaired
> from doing such basic things as creating new blogs, commenting on most
> Blogger blogs, creating new Gmail accounts and much more. Please help make
> Google see the error in their ways so they will make this situation right by
> providing equal access to their visual verification regardless of the
> presence or lack of eye sight.
> Thanks.
> Darrell Shandrow - Shandrow Communications!
Technology consultant/instructor, network/systems administrator!
A+, CSSA, Network+!
Check out high quality telecommunications services at
Information should be accessible to us without need of translation by
> another person.
Blind Access Journal blog and podcast:

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