Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Journal of Imaging






239 (1-19)


Advertisements have become commonplace on modern websites. While ads are typically designed for visual consumption, it is unclear how they affect blind users who interact with the ads using a screen reader. Existing research studies on non-visual web interaction predominantly focus on general web browsing; the specific impact of extraneous ad content on blind users' experience remains largely unexplored. To fill this gap, we conducted an interview study with 18 blind participants; we found that blind users are often deceived by ads that contextually blend in with the surrounding web page content. While ad blockers can address this problem via a blanket filtering operation, many websites are increasingly denying access if an ad blocker is active. Moreover, ad blockers often do not filter out internal ads injected by the websites themselves. Therefore, we devised an algorithm to automatically identify contextually deceptive ads on a web page. Specifically, we built a detection model that leverages a multi-modal combination of handcrafted and automatically extracted features to determine if a particular ad is contextually deceptive. Evaluations of the model on a representative test dataset and 'in-the-wild' random websites yielded F1 scores of 0.86 and 0.88, respectively.


© 2023 by the authors.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.

Data Availability

Article states: "All code and data are available at (accessed on 26 October 2023)."

Original Publication Citation

Kodandaram, S. R., Sunkara, M., Jayarathna, S., & Ashok, V. (2023). Detecting deceptive dark-pattern web advertisements for blind screen-reader users. Journal of Imaging, 9(11), 1-19, Article 239.


0000-0002-5208-4301 (Kodandaram), 0000-0002-6970-0203 (Sunkara), 0000-0002-4879-7309 (Jayarathna), 0000-0002-4772-1265 (Ashok)