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Using a phonetic alphabet to obfuscate email addresses

Many people on the web like to have a feature to let there readers give feedback on articles. The easiest way to do this is to provide their email address in a link (mailto:bobjones@jonesnet.com). This worked great until ruinous people built special programs to harvest emails of the web for use in giant spam databases. To combat this, many webmasters have chosen to obfuscate emails using images, JavaScript, and Flash. Each has its own drawbacks, but virtually none are compatible with screen readers.

Visually impaired people can use screen readers that read the content of a page out loud. Screen readers work very nicely with text, decent for flash files, and poorly with JavaScript. I have devised a method for obfuscating email addresses for the sole use of screen readers.

Let's use this example. Bob Jones wants to hide his email from malicious bots. He decides that he is going to make an image named door.png. Contained within it is the text of his email address (See fig 1.)

figure one

Most people would add the image with the code:

<img src="door.png" alt="">

The empty alt tag would be needed, as it would defeat the purpose to put your address there. This would effectively hide your address from bots, but it would also alienate your blind audience.

My solution is to provide your email address encoded in the NATO phonetic alphabet (A= alpha, B= Bravo, C= Charlie, etc.). The code would now read:

<img src="door.png" alt="Email me at: Bravo Oscar Bravo Juliet Oscar November Echo Sierra At Juliet Oscar November Echo Sierra November Echo Tango Dot Charlie Oscar Mike">

The sightless reader can now easily open their email program and type in your address. (See figure 2)

Email me at (This is not a real address): Bravo Oscar Bravo Juliet Oscar November Echo Sierra At Juliet Oscar November Echo Sierra November Echo Tango Dot Charlie Oscar Mike

Resources: Wikipedia on NATO phonetic alphabet