"I'm Literally Just Hoping This Will Work:'' Obstacles Blocking the Online Security and Privacy of Users with Visual Disabilities


Daniela Napoli, Khadija Baig, Sana Maqsood, and Sonia Chiasson, Carleton University


To successfully manage security and privacy threats, users must be able to perceive the relevant information. However, a number of accessibility obstacles impede the access of such information for users with visual disabilities, and could mislead them into incorrectly assessing their security and privacy. We explore how these users protect their online security and privacy. We observed their behaviours when navigating Gmail, Amazon, and a phishing site imitating CNIB, a well-known organization for our participants. We further investigate their real world concerns through semi-structured interviews. Our analysis uncovered severe usability issues which led users to engage in risky behaviours or to compromise between accessibility or security. Our work confirms the findings from related literature and provides novel insights, such as how security and accessibility software (e.g., JAWS) can hinder users' abilities to identify risks. We organize our main findings around four states of security and privacy experienced by users while completing sensitive tasks, and provide design recommendations for communicating security and privacy information to users with visual disabilities.

SOUPS 2021 Open Access Videos Sponsored by

Open Access Media

USENIX is committed to Open Access to the research presented at our events. Papers and proceedings are freely available to everyone once the event begins. Any video, audio, and/or slides that are posted after the event are also free and open to everyone. Support USENIX and our commitment to Open Access.

@inproceedings {274439,
author = {Daniela Napoli and Khadija Baig and Sana Maqsood and Sonia Chiasson},
title = {"I{\textquoteright}m Literally Just Hoping This Will Work:{\textquoteright}{\textquoteright} Obstacles Blocking the Online Security and Privacy of Users with Visual Disabilities},
booktitle = {Seventeenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security ({SOUPS} 2021)},
year = {2021},
isbn = {978-1-939133-25-0},
pages = {263--280},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/soups2021/presentation/napoli},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},
month = aug,

Presentation Video