Towson Technology Aims To Help The Blind with CAPTCHA

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pleased to bring you articles that can help you to deal more effectively =
and=20
efficiently with the wide world of technology.  If you are =
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Today we have a great little article for you;
Towson Technology =
Aims To=20
Help The Blind with CAPTCHA
 
The business desk team
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+++++++++++++++
A Gaston Bedard =
contribution=20
 
Towson Technology Aims To Help The =
Blind with=20
CAPTCHA
 
By Carrie Wells, The Baltimore Sun, =
April 27,=20
2014.
 
While blind people can browse the =
Internet through=20
a variety of means, there
is often one thing that stops them cold – a =

security feature known as a
CAPTCHA that’s designed to distinguish =
human=20
users from robots.

 
CAPTCHAs, in which a user must identify =
the letters=20
in a distorted image,
are commonly used to block automated bots from =
grabbing=20
up all the tickets
for an event, signing up for thousands of email =
addresses=20
in a short period
of time or unfairly swaying the results of an =
online=20
poll.
 
They have drawn criticism from advocacy =

organizations for the blind for
being too difficult to use, but last=20
month,
Towson University secured a U.S. patent for a new kind of =
CAPTCHA=20
that’s
intended to be easier for those with limited or no=20
eyesight.

 
With Towson’s SoundsRight CAPTCHA, =
users listen to=20
a series of 10 random
sounds and are asked to press the computer’s =
space bar=20
each time they hear a
certain noise – a dog barking, a horse neighing =
– among=20
the other sounds.
The developers say it is superior to
Google’s =
current=20
audio alternative CAPTCHA, citing studies showing that
version’s =
failure rate=20
of 50 percent for blind users.
 
“Blind people are capable of doing =
everything that=20
a visual person can on
the Internet,” said Jonathan Lazar, a Towson =
professor=20
who has led a group
of graduate and outside researchers on the =
project. “We=20
just try to come up
with some equivalent features that make it=20
easier.”
 
“Some people are unaware that blind =
people can use=20
the Internet,” Lazar
added.
 
The SoundsRight CAPTCHA is still in a =
“beta”=20
version, Lazar said, and the
developers are hoping a real-world =
rollout will=20
help identify any necessary
tweaks.
 
The Towson researchers worked closely =
on testing=20
with the National
Federation of the Blind, which is headquartered in =
the=20
Riverside
neighborhood of Baltimore. Anne Taylor, the federation’s =
director=20
of access
technology, said there are several types of software =
available for=20
blind
users to read the text on a Web page aloud.
 
Taylor, who is blind, said not being =
able to use=20
visual CAPTCHAs could
impede a blind person’s ability to enjoy the =
benefits=20
of the Internet and
hurt their ability to hold a job.
 
A sighted person could help a blind =
user with the=20
visual CAPTCHAs, she said,
but the blind want to be independent on =
the=20
Internet. Further, since many
CAPTCHAs are on web pages that ask for =
personal=20
financial information, she
has concerns about privacy.
 
“The Internet is such an important and =
integral=20
part of our daily lives
now,” Taylor said. “Just think of how many =
hours you=20
spend on the web as a
sighted individual. Would you really want to =
have=20
someone with you all that
time?”
 
CAPTCHA, which stands for Completely =
Automated=20
Public Turing test to tell
Computers and Humans Apart, was introduced =
as a=20
concept by computer
scientist Alan Turing in 1950.
 
The term was coined in 2000 by =
researchers at=20
Carnegie Mellon University who
developed an early Web page test =
program for=20
Yahoo.
 
The CAPTCHAs protect from automated =
hacking=20
programs that can also leave
spam comments on blogs, attack protected =

passwords and send junk email.

 
Tim Brooks, the chief software =
developer on the=20
SoundsRight project since
2010, said the audio CAPTCHA can be =
embedded into=20
any Web page and
customized by the webmaster.
 
Brooks said its script could be tweaked =
to be used=20
in any number of
different languages or have users identify any =
number of=20
sounds. An
organization for train enthusiasts, he said, could =
potentially=20
have users
identify the sounds of different types of =
trains.
 
The SoundsRight CAPTCHA is just as =
secure as the=20
traditional visual
CAPTCHAs, he said. Sighted users can use the audio =
CAPTCHA=20
as well, or a Web
page could give the option of either a visual =
CAPTCHA or=20
the SoundsRight
CAPTCHA, he said. The only potential downside to the=20
technology is that it
takes about 30 to 40 seconds to complete, =
versus less=20
than 10 seconds for a
visual CAPTCHA, Brooks said.
 
“A lot of people don’t have that kind =
of patience,”=20
he said.
 
The Towson CAPTCHA project was the =
brainchild of=20
then-undergraduate student
Jon Holman in 2007 as a class project, =
Lazar said.=20
In a 2007 focus group,
blind users identified visual CAPTCHAs as the =
biggest=20
impediment to their
using the Internet independently. Several other =
students,=20
faculty members
and outside researchers have assisted in developing =
the=20
technology since the
project began.
 
“We’ve always done the evaluation with =
blind users=20
at every step,” Lazar
said. “This was research that was done because =
blind=20
users were telling us
this was important.”
 
The project was partially supported =
with a $50,000=20
grant from the Maryland
Technology Development Corp., Lazar said. The =

researchers went through
several different prototypes, rejecting =
those that=20
weren’t found to be
secure enough.

 
The SoundsRight CAPTCHA is in use on =
the National=20
Federation of the Blind’s
website, and the organization is working to =

encourage various groups and
businesses to adopt it.

 
“We are all one step away from a sudden =
disability,=20
so why not make the
Internet an inclusive place for everybody?” =
Taylor=20
said.
 

http://www.baltimoresun.com/topic/education/colleges-univers=
ities/towson-uni
versity-OREDU0000148.topic
 
http://www.baltimoresun.com/topic/economy-business-finance/c=
omputing-informa
tion-technology-industry/google-inc.-ORCRP006761.=
topic
 
http://www.baltimoresun.com/topic/science-technology/computi=
ng-information-t
echnology-industry/alan-turing-PEHST00000279.topi=
c
 
 

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