Many common Web practices — such as CAPTCHA, which prompts users to type distorted words or symbols to prove they aren’t spam-bots — aren’t designed for people who are deaf or blind.
The General Services Administration’s quick-fix IT team 18F is trying to change that standard, beginning with federal websites. On Tuesday, 18F hosted its first “Accessibility Hackathon,” tasking volunteers and 18F staff with creating technology to improve the Internet experience for disabled communities. (18F helmed the event in conjunction with the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, and DC Legal Hackers, a technology and law meet-up group.)
After spending three hours on development work, volunteers presented a handful of concepts and prototypes, including a webcam-based alternative to CAPTCHA for the visually impaired that would ask users to perform a specific motion in front of the camera, instead of typing in a word.