Visually impaired call for audio bank codes
A group campaigning for banks to make online services more accessible for visually impaired customers has renewed its call for regulating authorities to look into CAPTCHA codes.
CAPTCHA, short for “completely automated public turning test to tell computers and humans apart”, refers to the blurred codes Web users must enter before they are allowed to confirm a function, such as registering an account or completing a transaction.
They are used to prevent malicious attacks by hackers and “bots” — computer programs designed to spam websites — and many Chinese websites use them.
However, netizens have complained the codes on websites for Chinese banks do not work with screen readers, audio software designed for people with visual impairments.
“People with restricted sight, like me, can have difficulty going out and prefer buying goods or paying bills online,” said Sun Tao, 29, from Qingdao in Shandong province.
Sun said he likes shopping on Taobao, China’s largest e-commerce website, but to pay he needs to log into an online banking account. “It means we have to ask our family members and friends to complete transactions for us. We want to be able to do this on our own.”
In July 2012, 493 people, including some from Beijing and Shandong, Henan, Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces, signed a letter to the China Banking Regulatory Commission highlighting their problems with CAPTCHA codes.
They received no reply, prompting the group to call on the commission and China’s four State-owned commercial banks on July 17 to disclose progress on making online services more accessible.
Lyu Shiming, vice-chairman of China Disabled Persons’ Federation, said in June that he hopes the banking system will make further improvements with audio CAPTCHA codes and Braille bankcards.
“The technology ( audio CAPTCHA) on many websites, including search engines Baidu and Sina, is very well developed,” said Wang Defu, a visually impaired expert on network technology from Linyi, Shandong.
Many people with limited vision are computer experts and are willing to contribute their experience and skills, he said.
e Bank of Qingdao has set a good example by installing audio CAPTCHA on its website, which means customers using online services only need to click a sign for loudspeaker and then the numerical or text code can be heard.
“We have been positively communicating with the China Banking Regulatory Commission to solve the problem,” said Li Weihong, executive vicechairman of the China Association for the Blind. “The commission issued a notification in May last year that demanded banking and financial institutions improve services for the disabled by constructing barrier-free facilities.”
A spokeswoman for the commission declined on Thursday to comment on the complaints about CAPTCHA.