Multi-Factor Authentication Is Inaccessible

Autistic people, ADHDers, and those who can’t afford cellphone service are excluded by most authentication systems

Devon Price
Debugger
Published in
7 min readMar 19, 2021

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Photo: Jessica Lewis/Unsplash

Last January, I was out thrift shopping with my friend Imani when my phone suddenly stopped working. We’d made it about halfway through a long row of wool coats when I went to check my email and found I had no signal.

“That’s really weird,” I said to Imani. “My phone isn’t connecting to any towers.”

“Maybe the store just gets a bad signal.”

“No, that’s not it,” I said. “There are no bars, not even empty ones. And no little LTE or 4G symbol.”

“Try restarting it?”

I turned my phone off and back on again, and still there was nothing. I was used to getting a crappy signal inside buildings, but the absence of any connection was new. I have to admit I felt a bit of panic rising in my stomach — I was worried Trump had finally gone and gotten us into some nuclear conflict that had destroyed our satellites or cell towers or something. But when we stepped outside for a smoke break, Imani’s phone worked fine. She had a different provider than I did.

We walked to a coffee shop around the corner, and I connected to its Wi-Fi. I checked Down…

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Devon Price
Debugger

He/Him or It/Its. Social Psychologist & Author of LAZINESS DOES NOT EXIST and UNMASKING AUTISM. Links to buy: https://linktr.ee/drdevonprice