Secure Usability and Accessibility Lab

Improving the usability and accessibility of open source circumvention and digital security technologies

The Secure Usability and Accessibility Lab offers assistance to Internet freedom and digital security tools, helping them recognize and resolve usability challenges that hamper their adoption in repressive contexts. We firmly believe that it isn’t enough for internet freedom tools to just “work.” Rather, they should work for users as seamlessly as possible regardless of technical skill level, with security “on” by default.

To this end, OTF partners with expert service providers to provide the following services as an in-kind resource to OTF-funded projects and other Internet freedom technologies:

Secure usability and accessibility coaching:

Guidance for OTF-approved and other Internet freedom projects to help improve their usability and accessibility capacity. This is to help you understand secure usability and accessibility to better help you plan and develop your technology.

Secure usability and accessibility consultation:

Consultations to help OTF-approved and other Internet freedom projects increase their capacity to address the most difficult usability and accessibility problems they face in a secure and privacy-preserving manner. These consultation services include research, design, and implementation.

Secure usability and accessibility audits:

Secure usability and/or accessibility audits for OTF-approved and other Internet freedom technology to provide input such as: assessment of the usability and/or accessibility of the tool in relation to standards and best practices;highlight problems that need to be fixed and suggest areas of improvement; analyze and identify any pitfalls that might make it difficult for users under threat to use your tool; help tools better understand the needs of their users and articulate them in the design of their tools.

Our experienced service providers:

Accessibility Lab is a Mexican organization seeking to ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities and their integral development, through accessibility in the digital world.

Services include:

  • Accessibility training: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 - accessible digital documents

  • Websites & apps accessibility audits: simple diagnosis and assessment - detailed audit with recommendations

  • Accessible software development: websites & apps (Android & iOS)

  • Digital documents remediation

To apply contact: Nancy Reyes <>

Okthanks works to advance human rights through the design of software and technology. We support activists and journalists living in oppressed environments where censorship and surveillance lead to further marginalization and violation of basic human rights. Our project teams represent various perspectives and skill sets necessary to help a team achieve its objectives.

Services include:

  • Coaching: We offer coaching sessions for open source teams interested in learning more about how to make their tools more relatable, viable and safe for at-risk and vulnerable communities.

  • Community Studies: Want to learn more about your users? We can help you connect with and learn from the people your tool is made to benefit. Looking to localize your app for a new context? We’ll collaborate with partners on the ground to understand the benefits of the technology and barriers to adoption. We’ll help you shape and produce the outreach, educational and research materials needed for workshops. At the conclusion of a study, we’ll synthesize the information and insight gained to help shape the roadmap and next steps for your tool.

  • Unified Usability and Accessibility Audit for Mobile Apps: In partnership Accessibility Lab, we can provide a holistic assessment of usability and accessibility for mobile apps.

  • User Experience Design: We can work with you to design the entire process an individual has to acquire and integrate your tool into their lives. This may include aspects of branding, education, experience design, usability and function. We believe that design is best when driven by user research, participatory process and methodical usability evaluations. We employ various methods and activities throughout the design process.

  • Usability Testing: This project type is designed for early stage prototypes and existing applications. Depending on the project budget and goals, there are two tiers of audits that can be performed—basic and target audience.

To apply contact: Carrie Winfrey <>

Plaintext Design is a UX collective specializing in Internet freedom technologies. Based in Germany, we work with developer teams across various domains and software layers. Be it a quick UX intervention on an upcoming decision, or a user study that feeds into your next sprint, we meet you where you are on your UX journey.

Services include:

  • UX Research: qualitative research and discovery of user needs through interviews, shadowing, focus groups, systems mapping, and quantitative validation

  • UX Design: interface and content design based on research or heuristics review; methods include iterative prototyping, wireframing, service design blueprints, information architecture workshops

  • UX Coaching: regular or one-off coaching based on a topic such as secure usability best practices, product strategy, UX methodology and process, open source feedback gathering and more.

To apply contact: Evelyn Winter <>

Simply Secure leverages design as a transformative practice to shift power in the tech ecosystem. We apply a holistic approach and view design as an intervention opportunity to center people and their needs. We collaborate closely with others in the space to grow the community focused on shaping our collective online future. Our vision is a world where everyone has the knowledge, network, and digital tools needed to enrich their lives.

Services include:

  • Coaching sessions: No matter your level of design experience, we can help you build the skills you and your team need. In our coaching sessions, we work with an individual or a team to support you on any usability, UX, user research, and product strategy subject. Our goal is to help you get unstuck on usability and design issues, and to develop skills to continue to work on the challenges with or without more support. These can be one-off sessions, or a series of sessions as you work through a challenge.

  • Research, Design and Strategy Consultations: Our human-centered design approach emphasizes high-impact user research, rapid prototyping, and an open, collaborative philosophy. Whether you want help learning more about your users needs through a user research study, testing your designs or application with people, build an interactive prototype, or just need help designing how to engage your community for feedback, we can help!

  • Secure Usability Audit/Review: Analyzing the UX, not the code, and delivering actionable recommendations to developers. We will do a thorough heuristic review of all of a tool’s user-facing features and interfaces, target-user threat modeling, and product messaging. Includes interviewing the team to understand their goals, understanding of their intended user population and the threat models, and sharing concrete recommendations in a way that will be accessible.

To apply contact: Georgia Bullen & Team <>

Ura Design is an open source design collective based in Albania, focused on open source, secure and privacy-preserving software projects. Since its inception in 2016, we have been supporting various organizations and software tools with Accessibility support, UX Design, User Research and Visual Design services. Unlike a traditional design agency, we operate as a collective, with a shared workload and income, as well as a pro-bono quota we aim for.

Services include:

  • Visual identity.

  • Brand Strategy.

  • Usability.

  • UX Design.

  • Print.

To apply contact: Elio Qoshi <>

To learn more about the Secure Usability and Accessibility Lab or apply to receive accessibility and usability improvement services, head to the Secure Usability and Accessibility Lab page.

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