Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Computer Science


Computer Science


College of Engineering


Zachary Peterson

Advisor Department

Computer Science

Advisor College

College of Engineering


The growth of web-based malware and phishing attacks has catalyzed significant advances in the research and use of interstitial warning pages and modals by a browser prior to loading the content of a suspect site. These warnings commonly use visual cues to attract users' attention, including specialized iconography, color, and an absence of buttons to communicate the importance of the scenario. While the efficacy of visual techniques has improved safety for sighted users, these techniques are unsuitable for blind and visually impaired users. This is likely not due to a lack of interest or technical capability by browser manufactures, where universal design is a core tenet of their engineering practices, but instead a reflection of the very real dearth of research literature to inform best practices, exacerbated by a deficit of clear methodologies for conducting studies with this population.

Indeed, the challenges are manifold. In this paper, we present the results of our study analyzing the experiences of the visually impaired with browser security warnings, detail the development and advancement of the methodological best practices when conducting a study of this kind, and ultimately identify some initial approaches that could improve the security for this population.