Cognitive function vs. accessible authentication: insights from dyslexia research

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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121 Downloads (Pure)


The most common authentication mechanism, the password, requires a user to recall a secret. Users take this memorisation, or cognitive function, test on a daily basis in order to gain access to systems and devices. This mechanism's design has received much scrutiny and there is a common realization that security and usability are key considerations. In this paper, we consider a third, emergent aspect: that of accessibility. Using a qualitative approach, we explore the challenges current password-based approaches pose to people with dyslexia, a relatively common cognitive disability, highlighting several issues. Following draft web accessibility guidelines, we also evaluate alternative authentication mechanisms. We observe a lack of consideration for accessibility in the area of authentication and offer suggestions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationW4A '21
Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of the 18th International Web for All conference
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781450382120
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2021
Event18th International Web for All Conference: Accessibility and Crisis - virtual, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Duration: 19 Apr 202120 Apr 2021


Conference18th International Web for All Conference
Abbreviated titleW4A’2021
Internet address


  • Cognitive function
  • Accessibility
  • Authentication
  • Passwords
  • Dyslexia


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