reCAPTCHA – Simple and Accessible

by Stephanie Rewis on June 16, 2007

For anyone who knows me well, the most shocking part of this post is that I actually, finally, put my own web site up. Yes, after 2 years of “Coming Soon,” I've actually launched my site focued on training, speaking and coding. One of the things I learned (which I knew, taught, but obviously wasn't practicing) is–let the content dictate the design. Oh my word–I had three designers work on the site over the past two years before I realized I should practice what I preach and let the content, semantically marked up, determine the design. So much better than trying to force the content into your preconceived design notion–at least when you'd like to accomplish something. Special thanks to Carolyn Wood (editor-in-chief of Digital Web and owner of Pixelingo) for all her hard work with me on this (and for continually kicking my butt)!

Meanwhile, something I found in the process of creating this site, I wanted to share with you guys. Due to the spam I receive on my blog and the form on my old site, I really wanted to make it more difficult for the bots. However, I'm also very concerned about accessibility with the current CAPTCHA products I'm aware of. Enter reCAPTCHA. This one actually gives the user the ability to interact with the CAPTCHA by viewing the image and typing it in–even with JavaScript turned of. And if they prefer, they can have the challenge spoken. I've not had the ability to have a non-sighted user test it, but it seemed to work well for me when listening to it. Best of all, it's free!

They have one other product which I'm also using — Mailhide. You enter the email and they generate some code that you put into your page (I doctored mine a touch) and, in the same way, it forces the user to solve a reCAPTCHA challenge to get your email. Of course, I'm sure nothing is foolproof, but having a little protection is better than nothing at all. Have a look!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer June 19, 2007 at 2:22 pm


I have actually tried reCAPTCHA as well. It does work, but it is difficult to read at times. The site I wanted it for is frequented by senior citizens and I felt it was too difficult for those with poor eyesight (an issue with all CAPTCHAs but more pronounced in reCAPTCHA). With reCAPTCHA you can regenerate the CAPTCHA or listen to it, but again, this was too much for my average user due to the controls being small icons and the fact that it takes a bit of tech savvy to realize what to do with the controls. Also, reCAPTCHA will add punctuation at times which is difficult to distinguish yet needs to be typed in.

Yes, it’s free and for many folks it may be what they need. I ended up adding code to my contact form that disallows certain input that seemed to be prevalent in the spam we were receiving. And, for the last month or so, it has done the trick.

I also use a mail hide program, and that has helped a great deal.

Ron June 29, 2007 at 4:58 pm

Being in the public sector, accessibility is high on my list here. I’ll take a look at reCAPTCHA as it seems to solve the vision impairment issue nicely.

Your new site looks great!

Stef. July 2, 2007 at 10:35 pm

Thanks Ron… I just moved to a new hosting company today where I could afford CF. ;) So I changed things to CF and now, I have to figure out how to make reCAPTCHA work for CF… when I get a spare minute. ;)

David July 14, 2007 at 7:38 pm

How easy is this to implement on WordPress blogs?

Stef. July 15, 2007 at 1:09 am

Hi David… To be honest, I have no idea. But people have posted code bits for various programs and languages, so see what you can find over there…

Mary August 1, 2007 at 6:38 pm

Thanks for that. I hope that my readers will take the time to use it, but it seems a great service (and free!)

I am waiting patiently for your CSS and Dreamweaver book to come out!

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