Demosthenes Akoumianakis, Michael Sfyrakis, Alexandros Paramythis and Constantine Stephanidis Institute of Computer Science, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Science and Technology Park of Crete, GR-71110, Heraklion, Crete, Greece e-mail:cs@ics. forth.gr
Currently available accessibility guidelines are formulated either as general design principles, or as low-level and platform-specific recommendations. They are typically based on past experiences and best practice, while experimental evidence is rare ( Casali 1995). Additionally, they cover specific user groups, such as blind and motor-impaired users, and provide guidance on how user interface software can be adapted to become accessible ( Bergman and Johnson 1995). For example, in the case of the Web, accessibility guidelines (see http://www.w3c.org/WAI/) mainly concern requirements for the development of accessible Web Content, User Agents, and Authoring Tools. Although the value of such guidelines is beyond doubt, they offer limited guidance on the process of integrating accessibility into design and development activities. This paper adopts a software engineering approach aiming to provide process-oriented guidance on accessibility and universal design to user interface designers, through the formulation of process-oriented design guidelines. The scope of the developed guidelines is deliberately broad in an attempt to provide a conceptual framework, independent of a particular technology, whereby universal accessibility is integrated in the user interface development life-cycle.
The recent literature on accessibility and universal design provides several collections of general design principles, guidelines and recommendations for