John Breton, AbdelRahman Abdou (Carleton University)

The link between user security and web accessibility is a new but growing field of research. To understand the potential threat landscape for users that require accessibility tools to access the web, we created the WATER framework. WATER measures websites using three security-related base accessibility metrics. Upon analyzing 30,000 websites from three distinct popularity ranges, we discovered that the risk for information leakage and phishing attacks is higher for these users. Over half of the analyzed websites had an accessibility percentage of less than 75%, a statistic that exposes these websites to potential accessibility-related lawsuits. Our data suggests that the current WCAG 2.1 standards may need to be revised to avoid assigning Level AA conformance to websites that undermine the security of users requiring accessibility tools. We make the WATER framework publicly available in the hopes it can be used for future research.

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