On 3 July 2018, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published a draft update to its 2005 note Inaccessibility of CAPTCHA.

As the W3C blog post puts it, “Much has changed in technology since then, but CAPTCHAs remain a barrier for some people to access websites”.

CAPTCHA is the acronym for the “Completely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”, a web-based security  feature that presents a challenge intended to be difficult for machines to respond to correctly, but easy for humans to resolve.

The reality is that CAPTCHA is often difficult for any user to resolve and very often impossible for users with disabilities. It turns out CAPTCHAs are also often easy for robots to resolve or bypass.

The W3C Note update aims to “comprehensively cover the current landscape in technologies that attempt to distinguish human web site users from robots”, which means it isn’t restricted to the original “image of warped text” CAPTCHA format.

In particular, the relevant W3C Working Group seeks feedback on the following questions:

  • Does this document fully capture current problems with CAPTCHA and related systems?
  • Are there other potential solutions that should be added?
  • Are there concerns for certain categories of persons with disabilities that remain unaddressed or insufficiently addressed in this document?
  • Are you aware of relevant research in this area we missed?

The W3C has invited comment on the updated Note until 31 July 2018, and has provided access to some useful resources:

Intopia encourages all interested parties to comment and contribute as they can based on their own experience with CAPTCHAs.