Dyslexia and password usage: accessibility in authentication design

Karen Renaud*, Graham Johnson, Jacques Ophoff

*Corresponding author for this work

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

6 Citations (Scopus)
749 Downloads (Pure)


Governments and businesses are moving online with alacrity, driven by potential cost savings, changing consumer and citizen expectations, and the momentum towards general digital provision. Services are legally required to be inclusive and accessible. Now consider that almost every online service, where people have to identify themselves, requires a password. Passwords seem to be accessible, until one considers specific disabilities, one of which can lead to many challenges: dyslexia being a case in point. Dyslexia is associated with word processing and retention difficulties, and passwords are essentially words, phrases or alphanumeric combinations. We report on a literature review conducted to identify extant research into the impact of dyslexia on password usage, as well as any ameliorations that have been proposed. We discovered a relatively neglected field. We conclude with recommendations for future research into the needs of a large population of dyslexics who seem to struggle with passwords, in a world where avoiding passwords has become almost impossible. The main contribution of this paper is to highlight the difficulties dyslexics face with passwords, and to suggest some avenues for future research in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman Aspects of Information Security and Assurance
Subtitle of host publication14th IFIP WG 11.12 International Symposium, HAISA 2020, Mytilene, Lesbos, Greece, July 8–10, 2020, Proceedings
EditorsNathan Clarke, Steven Furnell
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9783030574048
ISBN (Print)9783030574031
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2020
Event14th International Symposium on Human Aspects of Information Security & Assurance - Online/Virtual, Mytilene, Greece
Duration: 8 Jul 202010 Jul 2020
Conference number: 14th

Publication series

NameIFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology
ISSN (Print)1868-4238
ISSN (Electronic)1868-422X


Conference14th International Symposium on Human Aspects of Information Security & Assurance
Abbreviated titleHAISA 2020
Internet address


  • Passwords
  • Dyslexia
  • Authentication
  • Accessibility


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