GuardLens: Supporting Safer Online Browsing for People with Visual Impairments


Smirity Kaushik, Natã M. Barbosa, Yaman Yu, Tanusree Sharma, Zachary Kilhoffer, and JooYoung Seo, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Sauvik Das, Carnegie Mellon University; Yang Wang, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Visual cues play a key role in how users assess the privacy/security of a website but often remain inaccessible to people with visual impairments (PVIs), disproportionately exposing them to privacy and security risks. We employed an iterative, user-centered design process with 25 PVIs to design and evaluate GuardLens, a browser extension that improves the accessibility of privacy/security cues and helps PVIs assess a website's legitimacy (i.e. if it is a spoof/phish). We started with a formative study to understand what privacy/security cues PVIs find helpful, and then improved GuardLens based on the results. Next, we further refined Guardlens based on a pilot study, and lastly conducted our main study to evaluate GuardLens' efficacy. The results suggest that GuardLens, by extracting and listing pertinent privacy/security cues in one place for faster and easier access, helps PVIs quickly and accurately determine if websites are legitimate or spoofs. PVIs found cues such as domain age, search result ranking, and the presence/absence of HTTPS encryption, especially helpful. We conclude with design implications for tools to support PVIs with safe web browsing.

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@inproceedings {289508,
author = {Smirity Kaushik and Nat{\~a} M. Barbosa and Yaman Yu and Tanusree Sharma and Zachary Kilhoffer and JooYoung Seo and Sauvik Das and Yang Wang},
title = {{GuardLens}: Supporting Safer Online Browsing for People with Visual Impairments},
booktitle = {Nineteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2023)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-36-6},
address = {Anaheim, CA},
pages = {361--380},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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