Proposal for an Accessible Captcha

You have probably been subjected to a captcha last time you registered for a free e-mail account somewhere. Most likely you were presented with a funny looking image in which you were supposed to find a squence of numbers or letters which you had to copy to a textfield to prove that you are a human and not a machine.

Imagine if you could not see the image. What would you write in the text field? The phrase “you inaccessible idiots” spring to mind…

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Fangs: The Firefox Screen Reader Emulator Extension

Last week I started development of a Mozilla Firefox extension to emulate screen reader output. It is by no means ready yet, but I am releasing version 0.51 in the hope of receiving some friendly feedback and suggestions. I have decided to call it Fangs. The code is released under the GPL license and all source is included in the XPI file. The project is registered at SourceForge where bugs and feature requests can be submitted. Right now, I have only tried it in Firefox version 1.0 on Windows XP. News from other platforms are greatly appreciated (see below for contact details). Update: The OS X bug where a user could not close the window has hopefully been fixed. Update: Version 0.52 adds text selection. Update: For future information about Fangs see the new Fangs information page.

What does it do?

Fangs creates a textual representation of a web page similar to how the page would be read by one of the modern body-part named screen readers. Right-clicking a page and selecting Fangs from the Firefox context menu will open a popup window with the text representation of the page. The output looks like this.

If you install the extension you will find many things that remain to be done as well as some known bugs. However, if you have read my previous post on accessible title tag separators you may be interested in taking a look at your own website title.

How do I get it?

Before you download the extension please note that I accept no responsibility for the effects of this code. It may make your computer burst into flames for all I know.

The Firefox XPI file can be downloaded from here. Installation instructions:

  1. Make sure you have Firefox version 1.0 or later (not the preview release).
  2. Save the Fangs.XPI file to your hard drive.
  3. Open the Fangs.XPI file from Firefox (File menu – Open).
  4. Restart Firefox.
  5. Done. Go to a web page, right-click and select Fangs from the context menu.

How can I help out?

Please report bugs and feature requests at the SourceForge project page. If you are too lazy to do that, drop me an e-mail at

For news about updates please subscribe to the fangs-release mailing list.

Please note that:

  1. Using Fangs does not replace testing your pages with the real thing. If you haven’t bought a decent screen reader already you should do so immediately. It belongs to tools of the trade just like any other application you are using.
  2. I have not set up the SourceForge CVS repository yet so I kindly ask you not to link directly to the XPI file here. In the future, new versions will likely be available from the SourceForge project page.

The Sound of the Accessible Title Text Separator

There has been a lot of articles on how a page title should be constructed. Numerous articles have debated the proper separation character and the order of items but so far I have seen none actually listening to what they sound like. Inspired by the article Document titles and title separators by Roger Johansson I decided to listen to some JAWS output of some commonly used separator characters. Clips are provided for your listening pleasure (or displeasure if you like).

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