Tuesday, May 06, 2008

BlogCarnival.com says they don't allow blind people and they don't care if that's offensive

I’m putting on my advocacy hat today. I’m steamed, so that cap might be riding a little cockeyed right now.

Any regular reader knows that a royal thorn in my side is inaccessible CAPTCHA. That is initially what this post is about, but moreover, it is about web sites that turn their nose at providing accessibility.

I recently posted about the
Assistive Technology Blog Carnival,
Which at first used a widget to allow user submissions via a site called
Blog Carnival.
(That site hereafter is referred to as BC).

However, it was soon discovered that to submit a post via the BC site, users were required to complete a CAPTCHA with no accessibility feature. Lon, the host of the Assistive Technology Carnival, promptly removed that widget as soon as he learned about the inaccessibility of the BC site. Users can still submit to the carnival through comments on the AT Carnival site linked above, or via an email to Lon, whose email address is posted on the page.

Lon, myself and a few others have taken the issue up with the BC site and written letters asking for the site to consider using accessible CAPTCHA technology which would allow blind users to access their site. These letters have included suggestions of accessible CAPTCHA solutions such as
Unfortunately, nobody has received a response. Until today, when I read that T. Reid, of the
Reid My Mind blog
Wrote about the response he got from BC.

I’ve taken the liberty of copying the text of the infuriatingly smug letter from a woman named Denise at the BC site. (See below).

After reading her letter, please make a choice and do something proactive on behalf of people with disabilities. Write an email to the BC site and express concern for providing an accessible web environment for all. The email address for contacting Denise is:
If you’ve written a letter to BC already, then write again. Let them hear from you that the stance BC is officially taking is just wrong.

I coined a phrase several years ago: “If you’re not including somebody, then you are excluding them.” From the letter Denise wrote, it is very ovvious that BC is making a choice to exclude members of the blind community.

Here is the letter he received:
From: "BlogCarnival Support"
Sent: Sunday, May 04, 2008 3:12 PM
Subject: Re: Blog Carnival Refuses to admit the blind community

Thomas -

Thanks for your email about CAPTCHA and about the visually impaired community.

Unfortunately, Blog Carnival doesn’t have plans at this time to implement CAPTCHA. We are considering redesigns of the site, but we do not have a timeline for that. We will keep CAPTCHA in mind as we look at redesign options.

Good luck with your efforts to make the web a better place!



His response was:

—– Original Message —–
To: "BlogCarnival Support"
Sent: Sunday, May 04, 2008 6:34 PM
Subject: Re: Blog Carnival Refuses to admit the blind community


Thanks for the response.

You said,"Unfortunately, Blog Carnival doesn’t have plans at this time to implement CAPTCHA."

By this I am assuming you mean no plans to introduce alternative CAPTCHA solutions. That’s really too bad. Blog Carnival is missing out on an opportunity to make a statement not only to those with visual impairments, but the entire disability community. The statement, "Your participation is important to us."

I guess there is the possibility of an alternative statement based on the future redesign.

Based on this response, I personally will forgo from participating in carnivals that use BC. I will continue to make others aware of the official statement.

Feel free to let me know if there are any changes in Blog Carnival’s position on visual only CAPTCHA.


What are you waiting for? Go send that email to Denise at BlogCarnival.com!


T.Reid said...

Ron, that advocacy hatlooks good on you. The more we in the community use our voice to stand up against such negative treatment, the sooner companies will begin to realize our concerns are valid and should be treated with respect.

We're not done with BC, stay tuned and keep writing to them.

Lon said...

Hi Ron,
Thanks for the update. How hard can it be to replace Captcha with Recapthca as a code substitution? It is at least hopeful that they will consider it in new re-designs. I would have rather have heard - "we are working on it as we speak."
Why I am commenting seems trivial compared to your post but...
Kate Ahern has tagged me for a Meme - a way to round-robin about ourselves and share blog-wise. If you want to play, I have tagged you to particpate. Go to my May 6 post at:
Thanks. I appreciate you!

Ron Graham said...

T., thanks for the feedback about my headgear!

I’m with you on this. There is still so much work to be done. Speaking out and standing up for change is how to bring it about. I’ve still not heard back from BC, but I’ll diligently continue until they do reply.

Keep banging the drum for accessibility. It is the only right thing to do.

Ron Graham said...

Lon, thanks for the feedback, support, and tagging. I totally agree with you on questioning the difficulty level for replacing the existing CAPTCHA with one that is accessible. If they are planning a redesign, it would be great if they could include that as a piece of it. I’m optimistic that change will eventually happen there, but maybe that’s the stubborn side of me speaking.

I’ll jump in on the meme very soon. Time is tight right now, but when I get the chance, I’ll be all over that.

Lon said...

I announced the new AT Blog Carnival topic tonight - synthesized speech. I linked to this post so more folks can read about the BC response.
Keep up the good posts and good work,

Ron Graham said...


Thanks for the link. We need to keep getting the word out about web sites that choose to be inaccessible, especially after they learn about the existence of accessible alternatives and they still choose to remain inaccessible.

I have the AT blog carnival on my RSS feeds, so I had read that one. I’m thinking about what to submit for that round.

Penny L. Richards said...

The Disability Blog Carnival (which I organize) has been run through blogcarnival.com for more than 18 months (37 editions to date), but we insist that hosts offer multiple alternative submission means, to avoid complete dependence on this faulty system. We assumed they'd catch up to the latest accessibility features in time, and hoped to see that happen soon.

It's definitely a problem if the blogcarnival.com folks are actually completely uninterested in supporting all carnival participants. We'd love to move to a more supportive place, if they're really never going to fix this.

Ron Graham said...


Thanks for sharing your input. Of course, I agree with your thoughts.

I sincerely appreciate the support of you and the Disability Blog Carnival community on this matter.

I’m not sure how the whole Blog Carnival issue will turn out, but I’m optimistic. Hopefully, the right person will see the logic and sense in providing accessibility. Then again, if the general approach of the site does not change, then they are making their attitude towards accessibility and, more generally, towards people with disabilities, very clear and we as a community should then proceed to take stronger steps of advocacy.

Time will tell.