Pier Luigi Emiliani
Institute of Research on Electromagnetic Waves "Nello Carrara" (IROE), National Research Council, Via Panciatichi 64, Firenze, I-50127 Italy
Amongst the ingredients of success of the emerging Information Society, accessibility is considered to be of paramount importance. The issue of accessibility concerns the right of all citizens to obtain and maintain access to a society-wide pool of information resources and interpersonal communication facilities in a variety of contexts. Over the years, accessibility has been addressed through various collaborative efforts. These fall into two main categories, which are distinctively characterised by their underlying focus and normative perspectives. The first, which is referred to as reactive approach, aims to adapt products so as to build the required accessibility features. The second and more recent approach aims to proactively account for accessibility by taking appropriate actions during the early phases of a product's life cycle ( Stephanidis 1995).
This paper provides an overview of some of the landmark projects1 in the study of accessibility in Europe. These projects (see Acknowledgements) were funded by European Commission Programmes, have span across a decade, and have pursued an evolutionary path, initially adopting adaptation-based, and subsequently proactive strategies towards accessibility.____________________