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4th European eAccessibility Forum

eAccessibility of Public Services in Europe

12/04/2010, 9:00 - 18:00
Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie - Paris, France

  Version française
Printable version

AEGIS European Project, developing infrastructure, developer's tools, assistive technologies under an open source software license

Christophe Strobbe (Leuven, Belgium)
KUL, Leuven

Speaker's information

Strobbe Christophe

Christophe Strobbe is a researcher specialised in web accessibility; he has been working for the research group DocArch (Document Architectures) of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Leuven, Belgium) since 2001. He has contributed to the European projects VISUAL (2001-2004), IDCnet (2002-2005), BenToWeb (2004-2007), USEM (2007-2010), AEGIS (2008-2011), STAND4ALL (2009-2010) and eGovMoNet (2008-2010), and to a number of university projects with the goal to increase accessibility of the university's ICT infrastructure. During the BenToWeb project he also contributed to the Unified Web Evaluation Methodology (UWEM). He has been a member of W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (WCAG WG) since April 2005 and co-facilitator of WAI Test Samples Development Task Force (TSD TF) since July 2006.



Notice : The short papers of this conference have been prepared by BrailleNet who accept any responsibility for them. But presentation materials provided for download (full-papers or slides) have been provided by the authors themselves.

One of the challenges in the European Commission 7th Framework Program (FP7) focuses on ICT for independent living and exclusion. ICT can provide opportunities to integrate people who are at risk of exclusion, but for certain groups of users, ICT may lack in usability or accessibility. The objective is to respond to these trends by "mainstreaming and radically improving the accessibility and usability of new ICT solutions."

The AEGIS integrated project (Open Accessibility Everywhere: Groundwork, Infrastructure, Standards) contributes to this objective in three areas: desktop applications, web applications and mobile applications. One of the central concepts in AEGIS is "third generation accessibility". The UNIX desktop represents the state of the art in third generation accessibility: it provides a single, desktop-wide API (application programming interface) that is well supported by a number of open-source applications (mail, office productivity, web browsing). It also includes a number of open-source assistive technologies (screen reader, magnification, on-screen keyboard).

Third generation accessibility requires a single accessibility API that is rich enough to cover user interface components and interactions implemented in software applications, so applications and assistive technologies can communicate through a single API. In second generation accessibility, assistive technology developers need to fall back on other APIs and on reverse engineering techniques to provide access to a software application. With third generation accessibility, assistive technology developers can rely on the accessibility API to access the application, and focus on the user experience and AT functionality instead of reverse engineering other systems. The third generation accessibility has been developed much further on the desktop than in rich internet applications, and is a rather new concept for mobile applications.

Another central concept in AEGIS is "open source". Open source development facilitates a wide diffusion of the project results. It also fits the goal of mainstreaming accessibility, since it is easier to contribute accessibility improvements to existing open-source applications than to closed-source applications. The concepts of third generation accessibility and open source meet in the Open Accessibility Framework (OAF). The OAF addresses aspects of the design, development and deployment of accessible mainstream applications. It is based on research in the features of existing accessibility APIs and on the needs of different types of users with disabilities. It provides a basis for the design and development of tools that support developers. For example, AEGIS will contribute to accessible user interface components that can be reused by developers, and to developer tools that support the use of such accessible component libraries. AEGIS will also develop a set of embeddable assistive technologies for mobile devices.


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