Information Society

UniversalAccess in the Information Society:
Methods,Tools, and InteractionTechnologies
Constantine Stephanidis1,2, Anthony Savidis1
1 Institute of Computer Science, Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas, Science and Technology Park of Crete,
71110, Heraklion, Crete, Greece; E-mail:
2Department of Computer Science, University of Crete, Greece
Published online: 23 May 2001 –  Springer-Verlag 2001
Abstract. Accessibility and high quality of interaction
with products, applications, and services by anyone, anywhere,
and at any time are fundamental requirements
for universal access in the emerging Information Society.
This paper discusses these requirements, and their
relation to the concept of automated adaptation of user
interfaces. An example application is presented, showing
how adaptation can be used to accommodate the requirements
of different user categories and contexts of use.
This application is then used as a vehicle for discussing
a new engineering paradigm appropriate for the development
of adaptation-based user interfaces. Finally, the
paper investigates issues concerning the interaction technologies
required for universal access.
Key words: Universal Access – Universal Design – User
Interface for All – Unified User Interfaces – Adaption
– Adaptability – Adaptivity – Non-visual interaction –
Switch-based interaction
1 Introduction
The term “Universal Access” has several connotations.
Some consider it a new, politically correct term referring
to the introduction of “special features” for “special
users” in the design of a product. For others, Universal
Access elevates what designers call “good user-based
design” to a broader concept targeted towards addressing
the needs of all potential users [42]. Moreover, some
believe that Universal Access has its historical roots in
the US Communications Act of 1934, covering telephone,
N.B. The authors wish to acknowledge Prof. Reinhard Oppermann...