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How Would You Design a Captcha for the Deaf-Blind?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the an-oversight-isn't-necessarily-discrimination dept.

Communications 99

kesuki asks: "Right now, the state of the art captcha only works for the visually-abled. Some people are trying to start a grass roots opposition to catcha using existing anti-discrimination laws. However, without any captcha at all, spammers would have a field day. Audio captcha would work for the blind, of course, but they still leave out the deaf-blind using brail interpreters to use their computers and navigate the web. What system of captcha can you dream up that would work for the deaf-blind?"

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My 2 cents... (3, Insightful)

markild (862998) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312670)

I'm sorry to say this, but this sounds like a extremely narrow question.

For instance: What website with content for deaf-blind (_only_ text) would require registration to retrieve such information?
Yeah, I know (from TFA) some blogs have captcha registration, but do they require registration?

Anywho, my answer. Hire an assistant/interpreter. That would probably be much cheaper, and much easier.
Either that, or I would send the authors of the web-site a e-mail, and if it's not a heavy traffic one, they could probably help you out, even though you can't read the captcha.

Re:My 2 cents... (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312771)

Anywho, my answer. Hire an assistant/interpreter. That would probably be much cheaper, and much easier.

The question isn't what makes sense, it's how you would deal with a law that ties your hands. (If you take Adrian Trenholm's word that his country regulates the accessibility of blogs.)

Re:My 2 cents... (1)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312785)

I'm sorry to say this, but this sounds like a extremely narrow question.

23000 deafblind people in the UK alone. []

Hire an assistant/interpreter. That would probably be much cheaper, and much easier.

What the hell are you smoking?

Re:My 2 cents... (1)

markild (862998) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312833)

Let's look at it this way.
I probably register on far more sites online than the regular guy. Still I can't remember the last time I had to use captcha (maybe two or three times the last year).
How many of the 23K do you think _regularly_ has to interpret one? Every single one, every single day?

Now who's smoking?

Re:My 2 cents... (1)

damsa (840364) | more than 7 years ago | (#14318490)

There was one point where for me every slashdot post required a captcha.

Re:My 2 cents... (1)

masterzora (871343) | more than 7 years ago | (#14319882)

It's called posting without being logged in.

Re:My 2 cents... (1)

damsa (840364) | more than 7 years ago | (#14323012)

No I was logged in, but I still had to use captcha. It might've been because they greylisted my IP or something like that. It went away after a while.

Re:My 2 cents... (1)

masterzora (871343) | more than 7 years ago | (#14323063)

I'm sorry, that's not exactly what I meant.

As far as I understand, it used to be that one used the captcha if they had low karma, but it's not like that anymore.

The point of my post, which I guess seems rather unclear now that I reread it, is that *now* a captcha is still required, but if you aren't logged in.

I apologize for the confusion.

Re:My 2 cents... (1)

Paul McMahon (854063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313231)

23000 deafblind people in the UK alone.

Actually, "There are about 23,000 deafblind people in the UK. Some will be totally deaf and totally blind, while many others will have some hearing and/or vision."

From my reading of the link, I get the sense that many deafblind people can be helped by equipment to help people who are only deaf or blind.

"Deafblind people can get equipment to help them live independently. These include alarm clocks with large raised numbers, computer packages that display text on your computer screen as well as speaking the word through loudspeakers or through a hearing aid, and telephones and textphones with large numbers and letters."

Re:My 2 cents... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 7 years ago | (#14316640)

Thats 0.04% of the UK population (56million). Is doing a lot of work specifically for this minority actually going to pay off?

Re:My 2 cents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14312846)

The first step is to deal with the spammers that cause these things to be required in the first place.

The second is for the deaf/blind and their helpers is to set up some remote help desk which allows them to submit a website image to a sighted person for assistance. Perhaps the help desk could operate like a distributed network.

it works for spammers too (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#14316958)

You want to spam Slashdot? No problem. Set up a web site that requires answering a captcha for access. Make users answer a captcha swiped from Slashdot to post, read porn, download software, or whatever. Use their answers to answer the Slashdot captchas so you can spam.

Re:My 2 cents... (2, Informative)

kesuki (321456) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313400)

What website with content for deaf-blind (_only_ text) would require registration to retrieve such information?

I was thinking of such uncommon sites as (low karma users had manditory captchas to post, and they still may have random/anti flood ones) or perhaps's which requires a captcha for every comment. I was also thiking of e-mail signups at etc. Anyone at anytime could loose both their hearing and their vision, either from infection, or repeated damage to the eyes and ears from say, deafeningly loud music and intensely bright lighting/lasers etc.

As rare as it is that a person is born deaf and blind, or becomes deaf and blind in childhood or adulthood it Does happen, often enough that companies interacting with millions of customers need to think about easy, affordable solutions to accomodate people unfortunate enough to lack both vision and hearing. some of the solutions people have thought of are really quite simple, so it seems quite disturbing to me that the last i checked of the major free webmail sites only seems to have a link for the disabled to go to to assist in signing up for webmail.

Re:My 2 cents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14315701)

Dude, the site we're using has a CAPTCHA for anyone who posts without using an account. I presume it also has one for creating accounts. Accessing information provided by others isn't the problem, but if you can't consign these people to read-only use of the Web unless you're willing to write them off as useless.

Re:My 2 cents... (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 7 years ago | (#14320000)

Any webmail service would require registration to retrieve the information it displays - the email sent to you.

And if you are deaf/blind, email is pretty much the only way you can communicate.

Re:My 2 cents... (1)

Beltway Prophet (453247) | more than 7 years ago | (#14320440)

You can't find an example? Ever use Slashdot? You need to pass a captcha to post anonymously and/or open an account. Don't tell me you come here to look at the icons...

Had a similar idea (3, Informative)

Nos. (179609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312683)

Okay, this is a shameless plug, but I started work sometime ago on [] (I won't href it). Anyways, the idea was instead of CAPTCHA, which I don't really like, I thought why not let users identify different types of media. Now, I hadn't considered folks who were blind and deaf, but I did build the system to handle multiple types of media, like pictures and audio, which would help folks that are blind or deaf, but not both.

Now, the sites not quite ready, I'm still playing with a few things, like getting more media into it, but I'll have to watch this Ask Slashdot for good ideas on how to handle those who are blind and deaf.

Re:Had a similar idea (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 8 years ago | (#14325853)

That's a neat idea. Sounds like more fun than the current CAPTCHAs. ;) Not sure how well it could be applied to audio though - famous songs? Movie quotes? Animal sounds? I guess simple sentence transcription would do it, but that's pretty much what standard audio CAPTCHAs would do.

A math question (2, Interesting)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312702)

All in words, no numerals:
Challenge (example): "seven times three"
Response "twenty one"

Re:A math question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14312731)

I hope that is a troll. That is a terrible system and easily worked around by a program. CAPTCHA are supposed to use something that is difficult for a computer to automatically recognise and complete. Anybody with minor programming experience is able to write a program that recognises numbers expressed as words and then print out the answer.

Re:A math question (1)

markild (862998) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312740)

The problem with this is, it would take anyone (including me) about three minutes to write a parser for that.

It has to be flawed, and it has to be dynamic.

Re:A math question (4, Insightful)

Scorchio (177053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312907)

The trick is to add enough variations to make automated parsing difficult. Plus, throw a few word based questions in there...

What is 6 minus the sum of 2 and 2?
Is 2 higher than eighteen?
Which of the following is an animal? Brick, horse, factory, sky.
Type four letter Q's then the letter N.
How many P's in pineapple? ...and so on. Not so easy to write an automated parser if there's a few thousand variations to cope with.

Re:A math question (0, Offtopic)

Emrikol (21551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313211)

If I had mod points, I would mod this up. I think this is a good idea!

Re:A math question (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313341)

Interesting questions. Interesting approach.

Re:A math question (1)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 8 years ago | (#14314683)

Not so easy to write an automated parser if there's a few thousand variations to cope with.

How are you creating the variations?

Your scheme fails because the level of effort to create a variation or to defeat one is about the same.

Whatever re-wording algorithm you write, will be subject to a similar "solving" algorithm, and the system doesn't provide any order of magnitude advantages for the goods guys like crypto does.

A potential solution might be to ask questions that a computer simply cannot answer "Will this code halt?"
...but the problem then shifts from an individual's physical abilities to their mental abilities.

Re:A math question (1)

damiam (409504) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315375)

A potential solution might be to ask questions that a computer simply cannot answer "Will this code halt?"

The halting problem is only unsolvable in general; that is, no computer can decide it for every conceivable piece of code. But it's quite possible, often trivial, in the vast majority of cases. Computers would probably do at least as well as people on that captcha.

Re:A math question (1)

bradkittenbrink (608877) | more than 7 years ago | (#14317387)

so it should be more like this?

Challenge (example): 53v3n +1m35 +hr33
Response +w3n+y 1!1!!1!!!!!!

Re:A math question (2, Interesting)

BrynM (217883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312886)

Searching for word names of numbers is almost as easy as solving the math. I have a few standard functions in my code library that translate words to numbers and back in at least three languages. I can bet most other programmers do too. Good idea, but some random mis-spellings of the words would make it better. For example:
Challenge: "sevn t1mes thrree"
Response: "21"
Humans are good at figuring out missspelled words and what they are. I guess someone could use a spell check library, but massaging it to hack might be more trouble than it's worth.

Maybe something that mis-spells words in the first place might work. Say, provide the wrong letters:
Challenge: "Oniad Ptateg" (hint: America )
Response: "NTSS"

Re:A math question (1)

BrynM (217883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312910)

I noticed a typo in the mis-spell example. The response should have been "UTSS". Sorry about that... damned phone calls while I'm "busy" posting.

Re:A math question (1)

Ralman (103115) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313148)

The idea of using the misspelled words will not work for someone using a screen reader.

The above example would read something like:
"sev en tee one mess tea h are ree"

Try reading it out loud and see if it makes any sense to you. Jumbled together from a poor computer generated voice it might sound like:
"73 messy tea area"

I can't say I have a solution, just that this one might not work well.

Re:A math question (1)

BrynM (217883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313241)

The idea of using the misspelled words will not work for someone using a screen reader.
Good point. There must be some way to get a screen reader to read off letters tough. That would work for the mis-spelling only example. "O n i a d P t a t e g" maybe? ...gotta download a screen reader to test...

Re:A math question (2, Informative)

Blkdeath (530393) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313609)

Maybe something that mis-spells words in the first place might work. Say, provide the wrong letters: Challenge: "Oniad Ptateg" (hint: America ) Response: "NTSS"

Since I'm still trying to figure out what you mean (even with the spelling correction), that wouldn't make a good test. You'd eliminate those who can't make an immediate distinction. The idea behind such tests is to show a human something that they can immediately associate and give the correct answer. Giving out word problems and puzzles will only aleienate 75% of your sight/hearing abled client base and probably the same portion of the deaf-blind you were trying to assist in the first place.

Re:A math question (1)

Darius Jedburgh (920018) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312887)

You rule out 67% of the population right there.

Re:A math question (1)

DA-MAN (17442) | more than 8 years ago | (#14314498)

What if they enter in 3333333?

Uh? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14312710)

What the heck is captcha? []
Oh, thanks for explaining that.

How about... (2, Insightful)

Bin_jammin (684517) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312714)

a personal assistant? I hate to sound harsh, but I don't understand how these people can function in a world that at a bare minimum seems to require one or the other sense (sight vs. hearing), and the absense of both means perhaps these people are going to be left behind. How much could it possibly cost to have someone help them, I imagine they need help when they leave the house, would an internet nurse be so far fetched?

Re:How about... (1)

Teresh (911815) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313870)

How much would it cost?

I'm hard of hearing, and I've looked at what it costs in cash to have a deaf sign language (as opposed to deafblind sign language) interpreter around. And with rates generally around $80-$100 (USD) an hour, having an interpreter around all the time is cost-prohibitive if you're paying out of the pocket. I'd imagine deafblind sign language interpreters would charge even more because they have a more specialised skillset and because there's less of them overall.

Do you have $175,000 it would cost for me to have a deaf sign language interpreter with me for eight hours a day five days a week, all year? Didn't think so. For schools, there's the IEP system for a reason, but unfortunately, that doesn't follow the person home or into the workplace.

Website content developers should make their content such that it is accessable to all potential viewers, not just a particular subset of potential viewers.

Re:How about... (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 8 years ago | (#14314119)

Website content developers should make their content such that it is accessable to all potential viewers, not just a particular subset of potential viewers.
ideally yes they should.

However when the choice is between having a site thats unusable to everyone because of spambots and a site thats unusable to some disabled people because of anti-spam measures which is the sensible choice?

Re:How about... (1)

Teresh (911815) | more than 8 years ago | (#14314269)

That isn't the choice, though. I didn't say some means of blocking bots is a bad idea, I said that if a person is blind or deafblind he or she should not be denied access to a particular website because he or she is that way. You're sidestepping the question rather than actually developing an answer.

Re:How about... (1)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 8 years ago | (#14314669)

would an internet nurse be so far fetched?

There are already TTY operators that deaf people have access to through their telephone line and a special device, and this same service can also be accessed over the internet these days. Conceivably, a deaf-blind person that is challenged with a graphical captcha right now just has to go to his TTY operator on the net, using a computer with a braille display, and talk them into going to the site and signing them up. Why not? It's already there, they're there to help a deaf person get some bit of business done as it is. A braille display is basically a line or more of dot-matrix printheads arranged on a flat board that lies flat on the desk under the hand. The user places their fingers over it and they just have to wiggle back and forth a bit to scan the lines that change in neat ripples, and it can be read pretty quickly from what I saw. I once watched a blind man use one to read the weather, the news, get his email, and it was a trip. I was there to install his internet service, and it was ironic because, since he had no use for a CRT monitor, he didn't have one, so I was the one 'working blind'.

Though they might need the operator for more than just that sometimes, as there are some sites (such as that use captchas at intervals throughout the html-based game to prove you're not using macros. Maybe not many sites do things like that, and as it is, LotGD only does it about every 100 turns I think, which takes a few days to rack up.

Re:How about... (2, Interesting)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 8 years ago | (#14314995)

Ok, I'm replying to my own post, whatever.. Anyway here's something you could try to make: That small dot-matrix display, make it much more useful by developing a less expensive way to make tons of these 3d pixels that don't break down often. Work on that. Make a display that could show an actual VGA output at a low-but-acceptable resolution if you could make a good enough array of pins. Colours could be represented by the heights of the pins: a special driver would be involved to assign incoming colours to different elevations and the user would learn to understand them as indications of an image. If they used to have sight they might get a considerably raised internet experience over time. Even born blind too, they'd just have different ideas of what the colours were. In the web browser, everything's there on the tablet like it would be on a normal screen, except the text is in braille, and all images have a well-defined 'box' of fully raised (white?) pixels around them so the user knows right away that they're coming onto an image. They could learn to feel graphics this way. This might open up other avenues to blind users of computers, like better access to games. Some styles of games still wouldn't be suitable for them, but they'd get a hell of a lot more than what they've got now.

And for sighted hardcore game addicts, they could pick up the skill and use the device to finally be able to play in their sleep.

Re:How about... (1)

magefile (776388) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315070)

Many deaf-blind live and travel alone with only occasional assistance. It's not easy, but it can be done.

Well for brail... (1)

Chapium (550445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312716)

If one is trying to make one that can be read through brail, I would say, that it couldn't be done. Captcha designed for it probably would be nothing like captcha at all.

However, not being deaf/blind myself my view is limited. The real people to ask are the deaf and blind since they would probably have far more creative solution for checking user validity using the input/output devices that they are accustomed to using.

Deaf and blind? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312746)

From a practical standpoint, the number of deaf and blind people (people of both conditions) is very small, the traffic from spam is probably far greater than that of legitimate users blocked. I can expect that most systems to allow using vision or sound for CAPCHAS.

I'd hate to simply block people off, but I understand why people that use it.

I would expect thtat the anti-discriminatory laws probably won't do jack for individual site administrators.

disclosure: I am partially deaf but see 20/20 with correction.

Processor time (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312818)

There have been ideas to have email "stamps" where the sender "pays" by working out something that is easy to check, but difficult to compute, like factorising something. Wouldn't that work just as well for this? The downside is that it needs the browser to know about it to be completely transparent to the end-user.

On the other hand, CAPTCHAs are already broken [] , so this is only suitable for deterring the most stupid spammers in the first place.

Re:Processor time -- nope, spammers have LOTS (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#14317025)

That was a neat idea back when spammers used their own hardware.

Now, spammers use Windows boxes that have been taken over. They could do supercomputing.

self-describing sentences (2, Interesting)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312860)

There have already been captchas designed which show a semi-randomly created arrangement, and ask the user to solve something based on the image. (I dont remember the example, but someone untrusted in my head is saying "where is the person in relation to the bowl?"). Couldnt be too hard to construct a sentence the way you construct an image. Note that the image doesnt need to make sense, it just needs to have its basic components be recognizeable by a person.

But then someone will complain "By using sentences, you're blocking out all the blind deaf non-native-english-speakers, who can't determine the subtleties of meaning any better than a computer!"
Eventually there has to be a cut-off point.

Yes, I am talking about trying to get a computer to randomly generate riddles.

Easy (2, Interesting)

epsalon (518482) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312875)

Have a simple form for the deaf-blind. Add a field asking to explain your condition in your own words. The form gets read by real people who may send a follow-up e-mail asking for a reply. You can easily detect if you're talking to a computer. You can make the form only visible to text-based browsers. As this will not work for spamming, few will fill in the form.

Re:Easy (1)

stanmann (602645) | more than 7 years ago | (#14316580)

Or you could just have an 800 number option for people who choose to skip the captcha.

If you are having difficulty with this image call 18XX-XXX-XXXX. Problem solved. The Telephone is the wheelchair ramp to the internet.

Re:Easy (1)

WebCrapper (667046) | more than 7 years ago | (#14316904)

I'm currently designing an application where I honestly think Captchas are needed. I'm also doing email address verification as well. After thinking about this for awhile, I really don't know what to do (and I'm not the Story Parent).

At first, I thought the personal approach was best but there are a few flaws with this reasoning.

1. Anyone with programming experience can customize several responses and randomly send them out. If they're real creative, they can tell the program to pick from a list of sentences and just put them all together.

2. Site operators are notorious for being slow to read their email - if they even read it. I've been trained (the nicest way I could put it) to check my email every few minutes and respond to people as fast as I can, but many others just won't do that.

3. This is more of a specific thing with my software, but it could cause discrimination against the user. Many people have never interacted with Blind/Deaf users so they are afraid of them. When I did Technical Support, I saw a lot of techs try to pawn their calls off just because a user couldn't "see" the screen. If you've ever done TS work with a blind user, you know its just the opposite - they know their system so much better than the average person. Plus if they had their screen reader up loud enough (and reading slow enough...) you could tell them where to go or what to change without them asking whats next.

I really do agree that it is not feasible to have these people call a TTY operator to sign them up for stuff (BTW, TTY operators are generally used for the Deaf. In my experience, I've never had a blind user call in with a TTY operator) or assert the expectation that they just have someone read it for them since many blind users don't even invest in a monitor.

Identity system like OpenID as alternate login (2, Interesting)

robla (4860) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312884)

If there were someone running an OpenID site [] that had an accessible but spammer-unfriendly login mechanism, that site could serve as an alternative login for visually-impaired users. That admittedly just punts the issue, but the nice thing about that solution is that if there was a trusted site that most blind people would feel comfortable registering with, that site could vet the visually impaired. The OpenID solution wouldn't have to be limited to the blind, but that seems the easiest bootstrapping mechanism, as the blind are probably more motivated to promote/use something like OpenID than people who are perfectly happy with Captcha.


How about (3, Interesting)

Landak (798221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312897)

"If you cannot view this Captcha, please email [spam assasin'd, of course], or call 0800-1234-567"

Re:How about (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313260)

You spamming for Stoke Newington Heights [] ?

Reading Comprehension (1)

inio (26835) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312924)

It wouldn't be that hard to write a program that wrote little reading comprehension tests that would be very hard for a spammer to solve.

A phone number (3, Insightful)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312939)

Pretty simple really. For the incredibly small percentage of the population that is both deaf and blind you supply a phone number to a braille tele-type service (whatever the standard is for deaf-blind communications). You hire one person to handle all the calls, and give him something else to do while he's waiting for the teletype to ring.
Perhaps do this as a service for ALL interested web sites to share.

Sometimes we geeks forget that everthing doesn't have to be solved by high-tech wizardry.

Re:A phone number (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 8 years ago | (#14314133)

so what happens when spambots start calling that number and trying to convince the operator to give them accounts?

Re:A phone number (2, Funny)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14314400)

> so what happens when spambots start calling that number and trying to convince the operator to give them accounts?

They will fail the simple Turing test given by any operator who asks "how's the weather over there" or "can you believe that game last night?"

It's a person. A human being. How do you suppose a bot is going to do this?

REGISTERBOT: "Hello. I would like to sign up for an account."
OPERATOR: "Ok, No problem. What's your name?"
OPERATOR: "Hey, my in-laws are named Doe, are you any relation to the Piscataway Does?"
REGISTERBOT: "How does it make you feel when I are you any relation to the Piscataway Does?"

Re:A phone number (1)

Peter La Casse (3992) | more than 7 years ago | (#14317897)

Plus, the robotic voice of the bot would be a dead giveaway.

Re:A phone number (1)

Feyr (449684) | more than 7 years ago | (#14318318)

yeah, the robotic voice of slashdot is a dead giveaway...

this is a TTY you're talking about, ie, TEXT terminal. there's no voice

Undulation (1)

stuffduff (681819) | more than 7 years ago | (#14321974)

Captchas work by creating something that is easier for a human to decipher than a machine. An analog on a Braille display might be to keep changing the keys in patterns where the end users can 'feel' the phrase stand out against the 'noise.' To the bot it will look like a random string or characters, but as the words repeat, a few letters here, a few letters there, eventually the blind-deaf user will realize the hidden content.

Entire avoidance (2, Interesting) troll (593289) | more than 8 years ago | (#14312996)

"If you can not see/hear this, please email an admin for assistance".

Then when you get a request, manually assist them assuming they send a nice enough email. Get 500 email requests? mass delete.

Don't forget captchas are to prevent repetitive automated signups, not just a single signup.

You can't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14313026)

The answer is you can't. You can either do a visual one which excludes people with vision problems or make an auditory one which excludes people with hearing problems. You could have the option of either I guess. Don't have a CAPTCHA if it is that much of a problem for you to decide. A semi workable solution would be to have a form that you can send in if you can't do any of the methods and then the person would either do it themselves or get a helper/wife/husband/friend to do it for them.

What about (1)

qslack (239825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313030)

What about these?

Choose the correct answer:

Cats have _____ (a) fur (b) hair (c-d) other bogus choices

Ice is made of ________ (a) water (b) purple (c) grass (d) trees

Just use things that are common knowledge to humans but that'd be tough for computers to figure out. Of course, CAPTCHA systems are always vulnerable (the attacker can just pass through the challenge to the victim), but they provide more than zero security.

Re:What about (1)

GeorgeMcBay (106610) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313889)

Multiple choice is no good because an automated bot can always guess 'a' (or just randomly) and be right on average 1/4th of the time. Even if a bot can only guess correctly 1% of the time, the system is broken because they can make up for all the bad guesses with volume, volume, volume.

Having said all of that, I hate the idea of CAPTCHAS and really hate the ones that go so overboard that I can barely solve them myself.

Re:What about (1)

WebCrapper (667046) | more than 7 years ago | (#14319786)

Yea, there have been a few times where I've been frustrated at the quality of the Captchas since people think that they need to have a massive amount of lines through the text...

Re:What about (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 8 years ago | (#14314142)

someone has already pointed out the problem of multiple choice but even if you find a way arround that you still have the problem that if you can't autogenerate tests the spammer can just compile a complete test list.

Re:What about (1)

Hast (24833) | more than 7 years ago | (#14319674)

The second question run through Google:

Alternative Hits
Water 28,700,000
Purple 3,770,000
Grass 4,560,000
Trees 8,390,000

On the first question a simple query actually returned more hits for hair than fur. If you put the question in quotation marks you get the results 1,040 to 579 in favour of "fur".

There are actually people doing research on giving programs "common sense" like this by doing clever things with electronically available information.

I wouldn't (2, Informative)

aziegler (201013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313192)

They're broken, anyway. Try something else, like a two-phase signup process.

Use ASCII questions (1)

Paul Jakma (2677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313346) uses quite simple "Answer this simple math question: X + Y = [...]" textboxes and it seems to date to be quite effective. If spammers evolve, just add more language entropy to the questions (ie phrase the question in woolier language, "What is X added to Y?" "The addition of X to Y is?" "If you have X and Y apples, how many do you have altogether?", etc). You can use other types of questions too obviously.

Works perfectly with screen-readers.


Long-winded English, maybe? (3, Interesting)

zoeblade (600058) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313387)

So, if I understand this right, you need a computer to be able to randomly generate a question and corresponding answer from scratch (pulling it out of a database would presumably just lead to the spammers cataloguing all of the question componenets), but on the other hand, you need a computer to not be able to work out the answer when given just the question.

My best idea is to get it to generate long-winded English sentences along the lines of this:

Please enter any five letters, except that the middle one must be E. Make sure two of the letters are the same.

It would probably be a lot easier to just have a human being read each post and make sure it's not spam before displaying it publicly though, as is the case with moderated newsgroups.

At the rate we're headed, it seems like pretty soon Google will be able to whip up a robot that can beat the Turing test or Voight-Kampff empathy test.

sidestep the issue (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313397)

well, it would require more organization and centralization but if the world's major deafblind organizations got together and issues digital certificates to their members site owners could accept the certificate as an alternate registration and alternate login to bypass the captcha.

sort of like handicapped parking rather than making all parking spaces accessable to handicapped people we set aside alternative places to park which require a basic form of authentication (tags and stickers) the internet lends itself very well to advanced authenication.

Re:sidestep the issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14316908)

You are assuming there are no disabled spammers, or that spammers won't pay disabled to use their certificates.

Re:sidestep the issue (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14324924)

is a certificate gets too many complaints it could be flagged for spamming or flat out revoked

why would (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14313446)

the deaf-blind want to fill in a captcha for a porn site?

Re:why would (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315315)

The next step after that is to invent a monitor screen like the TV in Videodrome.

Long Live the New Flesh!

Easy.... (1)

joto (134244) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313754)

Ever taken an IQ test?

  1. A ball is to a circle as a block is to a ______
    • hemisphere
    • dog
    • square
    • onion
  2. Martin is 3 years older than his cousin Oliver. Olivers mom Vanessa is 4 times as old as Oliver, and three times as old as Martin. How old is Vanessa?
  3. Franklin was very found of the sun and of heat. He wanted a square house with a window on each wall, each facing south. Where did he build his house?
    • The north pole
    • The south pole
    • Equator
    • Hawaii

And so on...

Of course, this discriminates against users not knowing english, and users of very low intelligence...

One word: (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14314040)

One word: teledildonics!!!

Harrison Bergeron (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14314062)

The only way we can all be truly equal is for all of us to be only as capable as the least capable among us. Let's get on this.

e-bay or paypal already has this (0, Flamebait)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14314220)

To lazy to check but very recent I saw that during signup you can also have the catchpa spoken out. It was a regular link so a speech to text browser should be able to detect as well the poor sighted.

Is it secure? Well I suppose both speech and sight can be regonized by software. Just make the sound with background noise that humans have no trouble with but machines do. Same as the visual ones.

Really the question seems immensly stupid to me. Gee, we got blind people who can't see a piece of text. Oh my god how could we possibly solve this. Gee if only we had some tech that could you know get info to a blind person.


Re:e-bay or paypal already has this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14314731)

*Sigh*. Did you read anything? Anything at all? The summary, TFA or even the title?

Re:e-bay or paypal already has this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315288)

I guess he's blind and dumb.

I have the answer (1)

delusrexpert (578176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315111)

I have built a system that avoids current captcha methods. I need a solicator/legal advice etc to help me protect my IP as I belive this is my cash cow.

What I can say is that my system is a server side package that uses no javascript etc nor images and runs totally transparent to the end user.

I have tested my system throughly and Ive had close friends test my system as well.

With all these site including google gmail registration, hotmail etc using image captcha devices I would think that getting legal help etc for a percentage of royalties would be easy but its proving otherwise.

I have set up an e-mail account if any one would like to help needinglegaladvice(no)@(spam)

Re:I have the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14326008)

Are you based in Nigeria by any chance? Got $20 million to sweeten the deal?

Mis-use of CAPTCHA (1)

J2000_ca (677619) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315207)

Anyone else notice that they were mis-using CAPTCHA throughout the article. CAPTCHA stands for a turing test (completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart). They can be discriminatory but not all of them are.

Tactile mouse? (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315256)

I thought that someone once made special mice with a finger tip vibrating pin-pad that would enable someone to feel the screen by moving the mouse around? (I don't imagine that it would be at all easy to read the Captcha text that way, but it might be a start.) Was this a goofy tech that never worked out, or did I imagine it and should I rush to the patent office with my new idea? (Strictly defensive patent, of course... But imagine the new pr0n possibilities for the deaf-blind!)

a better question (1)

jbellis (142590) | more than 7 years ago | (#14316590)

How do you even design a browser for the deaf-blind?

Seriously, I have no idea. Quick google shows nothing.

Re:a better question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14316835)

Lynx + Braille terminal

Some info about deaf/blind individuals (2, Insightful)

querist (97166) | more than 7 years ago | (#14316921)

When I was an undergrad I did my student teaching in the Deaf-Blind unit at Perkins School for the blind, and the normal interface is a multi-line Braille "display" made of small "pins" that would pop up to form the Braille characters. Of those students that would use these devices, they read quite well and normal English would not be a difficulty for them.

We normally communicated with the students using "tactile" sign language, which is essentially American Sign Language with the "listener's" hands resting lightly on the "speaker's" hands. With one partially sighted individual we used "small space" signing, which is basically signing in a very confined space in order not to leave her visual field.

I must agree with several other posters who have suggested carefully worded questions such that they would increase the difficulty for automated systems but still be accessible to human beings. However, we must be careful to consider a few factors:

I hate categorising people, but when dealing with the deaf-blind there is one very important categorisation that plays a role here: when the person became deaf and blind. The important distinction is if the person became deaf and blind BEFORE acquiring language or after. Those who are born deaf and blind tend to have much more difficulty with more complex English language usage than those who became deaf and blind after.

For those who are born deaf and blind, there is a much steeper learning curve for acquiring the language skills needed to handle more complex English sentences. These individuals tend not to be able to function as independently as those who acquired other language skills before becoming deaf and blind. These individuals are more likely to have assistance with them most of the time.

Therefore, I suspect that the previous suggestions to use complex sentences that require responses (such as math problems all in words) would work for about 80% of the individuals in the target population. The other 20% are highly likely to have assistance anyway.

We cannot hope to reach 100% of these individuals. I am sorry, but there is only so much that can be done. Also, they are sure to know someone who can help. These individuals cannot do much in the outside world on their own if they are completely blind and deaf, so they are likely to have someone who is sighted and can hear available to help.

I had a similar experience myself... imagine trying to respond to a CAPTCHA in CHINESE. I had to do this to sign up for a QQ account (the Chinese IM service). I finally had one of my Chinese friends do that part for me because I simply could not figure out some of the characters in the CAPTCHA format.

Another poster put it very clearly, and I paraphrase: We do not always need to look for a high-tech solution. What we need is a solution that works.

Simple Math Problem (1)

gooru (592512) | more than 7 years ago | (#14318023)

I personally just present a simple math problem that's randomly generated, e.g. what is 4 + 8? If the client doesn't get it correctly, then they can't post, create an account, etc. I've yet to encounter a spammer that uses a bot smart enough to answer that sort of question. Of course, this approach leaves out those with really low IQs or who haven't completed first grade, but I think I can live without their comments on my blog.

Um (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 7 years ago | (#14318067)

How do you do ANYTHING for deaf-blind people? This seems to be a much larger, general problem. Signs? Prices? Car horns? Consumer product instructions? The list goes on. It seems simple math or word problems would suffice, but the problem is the IO. How do you get the challenge to and the answer back out of the handicapped person?

Re:Um (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 8 years ago | (#14324887)

Computers are IDEAL assitive technology for the deaf-blind. they open up a whole new world for deaf blind individuals, because now they can communicate and interact and be treated just like any other annonymous coward on the internet. there are enough companies making or trying to improve existing technologies, and it's true the deaf-blind are limited to the functionality of a command-line/keyboard shortcut/macro/script based interface, but as many slashdot readers can tell you the power and functionality of a command line interface is not to be dismissed.

some of the ideas are pretty good, optional text riddle captchas, an 800 number that works with TDD, or even an e-mail form that is 'spam filtered' to filter out massive 'bot' requests...

Like it's true that the 'deafblind' are about 0.04% of the population, statistically, but on a world with 6 billion people that's over 2.4 million deaf-blind persons globally.. 2.4 million people who prior to computers were 'difficult' to communicate with, but now they could very well be posting messages on message boards around the internet, intentionally not telling anyone because on the internet no-one knows they're deaf-blind... []

easy (1)

Weird_one (86883) | more than 7 years ago | (#14318244)

Add a css style like to a special browser that interpretes to a hardware device for whatever specific disability you are circumventing. Like a <blind> or something.

Something controlled by a USB pinball machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14318254)

I hear deaf dumb and blind kids play a mean pinball.

Simple. (1)

Gleapsite (713682) | more than 7 years ago | (#14319217)

Seriously how many deaf and blind people are there?
on your registration do this:
please respond to the following captcha, or if you are unable to respond do to physical handicaps and/or do not have someone to assist you please click "this link."

this link would send an email requesting registration, the Administrator then checks over the info and either auths them or not.

Why is this so difficult?

Taste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14319386)

I've got it! Lickable mice! "Mmm... tastes like chocolate!"

Seriously though I like the idea of questions and answers perhaps some math related "Which of the following is larger: dog, cow, building"

Of course just like any other system it would be busted a few weeks later so the spammers could continue.

How about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14337649)


Deaf AND blind? what kind of life is that? Just shoot em it'd be kinder.
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