Turned Away at the Virtual Box OfficeBy Danielson, Christopher; Voice of the Nation's Blind,
Publication Date: October 2004
Article discusses accessibility issues encountered by people with disabilities when using Ticketmaster’s website (http://www.ticketmaster.com). Ticketmaster is the largest event ticket retailer in the United States, as venues from local theaters to sports arenas use the service to sell tickets to their events. The author contends, however, that Ticketmaster’s website is completely inaccessible to people who are blind or have low vision. This is mainly because of the company’s usage of visual verification, which gives the website’s owner a way to tell whether an actual person or an automated software program is trying to access the service. Basically, an image with characters or words is displayed on the screen, and the user has to retype them in a box before he or she is granted access. The image of the characters is not plain text, so screen readers cannot detect it; the image is also distorted, so deciphering it actually requires some effort for people with perfect vision. Some sites that utilize visual verification technology also incorporated an accommodation for users with visual disabilities in which an audio file is employed instead of the distorted image. The author contends that this option is by no means perfect, but that it is better than nothing. Ticketmaster does provide the user the option of requesting accessible seating, but the forms to obtain such seating are not accessible to screen reader software. A detailed account of the author’s interactions with Ticketmaster officials is provided, after which the author concludes that the company appears to believe that it has no obligation to accommodate people with visual disabilities.
National Federation of the Blind (Web Site: http://www.nfb.org )
Link to text: http://www.voiceofthenationsblind.org/articles/10/turned-away-at-the-virtual-box-office