Chris Barbara Froschauer Stary University of Linz, Department of Business Information Systems, Communications Engineering, Freistädterstr. 315, A-4040 Linz
Visualization has become a crucial issue in interactive system design, due to novel requirements of the information society, such as the universal accessibility of information for diverse user groups ( Stephanidis 1999). Today's interactive software is mainly based on multiple media for presentation and control. In addition, the currently occurring shift from 2D- to 3D-features for HCI accelerates the need for design concepts when developing interactive software support for diverse user groups. As several studies have shown, 1: 1 mappings from one type of presentation to another when switching from a user group to another do not suffice. For instance, transforming a nested hierarchy of visually displayed menus into a set of spoken sequences of text leads to confusion rather than satisfaction of visually impaired end users, although fully enabled blind users are able to interact successfully with even highly nested menu hierarchies ( Stary et al. 1998).
Traditionally, research on presenting and encoding information addresses a single modality (e.g., Byme 1993, for icon development). Another type of research focuses on the fundamental objects and mechanisms behind a particular modality, (e.g. Korfhage et al. 1986, for icon language development), thus enabling the kind of abstraction required to provide rationales and concepts for using modalities in a targeted way. This allows supporting diverse user groups according to user capabilities and the problem domain at hand. In this paper we generalize the findings in a study performed in the field of visualization and software testing. We convey a strategy, namely meta-modeling of information and control spaces, that should be followed when designers search for an epistemologically reflected use of visualization concepts and related modalities. We will first report on a completed study to support developers of interactive- software with visual contents and control knowledge. Subsequently, we proceed