Big Accessibility Improvements for Mollom's CAPTCHAs on Drupal

As everyone who has been presented with a squiggly, impossible-to-read CAPTCHA test knows, solving CAPTCHA tests can be frustrating. For users with visual impairment, this frustration can be multiplied tenfold. In order to support these kinds of users, Mollom provides an audio version of our CAPTCHA, available by default for all Mollom installations that utilize the Drupal or WordPress modules.

However, there were some aspects of our audio CAPTCHAs that we’ve been wanting to improve. For example, users could not use keyboard navigation to tab into the audio player or control audio playback. Also, our instructions led some users to become confused and believe that they had to type in several words of text rather than just a few characters. Many of our problems were due to the usage of an old Flash player for audio that had been put in place to ensure consistent playback of MP3 audio files in the browsers of the day.

Along came HTML5 audio and eventually consistent support for MP3 playback natively. We still investigated a number of existing third party audio libraries, but in the end, decided to keep it simple! Each browser already implements its own audio controls natively. Taking advantage of this allows sites using Mollom to easily apply any existing HTML5 media solution or simply to benefit from browser accessibility enhancements. It also allows users playing the CAPTCHAs to take full advantage of existing accessibility tools that they already use for Internet browsing. We still use an improved Flash player fallback in cases where HTML5 MP3 playback is not supported, but now that player can be accessed and controlled with standard keyboard controls. For those users who still have difficulties, or prefer their own tools, we provide a direct link to the MP3 file for users to play in whatever player they choose.

We understand that despite our best efforts to use an internationalized approach to audio CAPTCHAs, our audio CAPTCHAs may not be appropriate for some non-English language sites. As a result, we have added a new configuration option within the Mollom settings advanced configuration section to disable audio CAPTCHAs altogether. For site owners who simply wish to change the presentation, we have moved the image and audio CAPTCHA displays into overridable Drupal theme templates.

Finally, we now provide a better explanation of how to use the NATO alphabet-based audio CAPTCHAs and ensure that the appropriate instructions are displayed in both image and audio CAPTCHA situations.

We’re happy to provide these updates that will make websites within the Mollom network more accessible and more compliant with modern web standards. Update your Drupal module to version 7.29 (or 6.27 for Drupal 6 sites) to take advantage of the new and improved CAPTCHA presentations. Your site visitors will thank you.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.