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Anders Jacobsen points out that Orkut, the latest in a seemingly endless string of social networking clones, fails the most basic accessibility requirement: ALT attributes on images. Specifically, the images that you select to accept or reject someone as your friend.

So-and-so added you as a friend.
Is So-and-so your friend?

Update: Apparently Orkut also uses CAPTCHA images on registration — images of words distorted to make them difficult to read by computer programs. CAPTCHA images have their supporters; their aim is to make the system more useful overall by preventing spammers from auto-registering thousands of accounts. But thought needs to be put into such a system to make sure it is accessible to as many people as possible. One technique is to provide a link to a music file where the user could type the word they hear. Neither technique satisfies everyone, but the combination of techniques vastly reduces the number of people being discriminated against.

None of the debate over CAPTCHA has any bearing on the original report, though. The lack of ALT attributes on “Yes” and “No” buttons is simply inexcusable.

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