Telstra frees customers from CAPTCHA

ACCAN urges other telcos to do the same for greater accessibility

Telstra will stop using CAPTCHA tests after deciding they are not sufficiently accessible to people with disabilities.

In its 6th Disability Action Plan, released today, Telstra said that by 30 September next year, it would do away with the authentication system in which users must retype a distorted word displayed on the screen.

"We’re currently scoping a range of alternatives and assessing them for their benefits and ease of use for our customers,” a Telstra spokesman said.

Accessibility advocates including the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) say that CAPTCHA is not accessible to people who are blind or have visual impairments. ACCAN launched a petition called "Kill CAPTCHA" in August.

ACCAN has used this image for its petition to eliminate CAPTCHA. Credit: ACCAN
ACCAN has used this image for its petition to eliminate CAPTCHA. Credit: ACCAN

“CAPTCHA tests fundamentally fail to recognise people with disability as human,” ACCAN disability policy advisor Wayne Hawkins said in a statement.

“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.”

Also in the Disability Action Plan, Telstra said it would include accessibility as a requirement in their ICT tenders.

ACCAN said this move will increase employment opportunities for people with disability and result in accessible products and services that are more affordable and widely available.

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

Telstra has lodged its plan with the Australian Human Rights Commission and it will be independently reviewed.

“Our goal is to make a difference to the customers and communities we serve, and the people we employ,” said Telstra CEO David Thodey in the introduction of the plan.

“Ultimately, our purpose is to enable every single one of us to live our lives to the full. It’s about creating a brilliant connected future for everyone.”

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