People who are blind or have low vision can use smartphones thanks to their native accessibility features, such as screen readers and screen magnifiers. However, typing passwords while having those features turned on may expose users to attackers. Through an online survey, we investigated how people with vision impairment deal with passwords on mobile contexts and how they perceive different user authentication methods.
We collected data from 325 people with vision impairment from 12 countries and found accessibility issues on existing user authentication methods. Here are the highlights of the study:
- Three quarters (75%) of those who own smartphones protect them with authentication methods.
- Most participants felt able or very able to protect their digital information
- The majority of respondents consider fingerprint to be the most secure and accessible user authentication method and PINs the least secure user authentication method.
- Vision-impaired people have concerns with using passwords in public because of the risk of an attacker stealing passwords by looking over their shoulder.
- Most behaviours and preferences were equal between participants who were blind and those with low vision, though blind people considered patterns and iris scans the least accessible methods, while people with low vision selected alphanumeric passwords and PINs.
This shows us a truly accessible solution for vision-impaired people should not require precise manipulation of visual items, the use of the users’ eyes or the use of keyboards with screen magnifiers.
See related project on Bend Password for People for Vision Impairment.
Understanding Authentication Method Use on Mobile Devices by People with Vision Impairment
ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS), 2018
Understanding Password Use by People with Vision Impairment: Initial Results of a Survey
ACM Student Research Competition, Grace Hopper Celebration, 2018