Digital accessibility, Design for All and Universal Access

Established during the academic year 1988-1989, the Laboratory initially had as its primary objective to carry out research and development work in the assistive technologies field, aiming to address the needs of various disability groups by adopting a user-centered design process which entailed the active participation of representative users. The start-up of the Laboratory's activities was characterized by the undertaking and execution of a series of competitive R&D projects funded by the European Commission, which produced significant and impactful results that received international recognition.

This research activity evolved overtime to address the principles of Design for All and Universal Access, which the Head of the Laboratory introduced in the international literature in the early 1990s, ultimately aiming towards advancements for an inclusive information society.

Research activities of the Laboratory in this direction have thus gradually evolved to include: (a) the creation of innovative frameworks, methodologies, techniques and tools that support the development cycle of interactive applications and services through intelligent adaptive interfaces that take into account the needs, requirements and preferences of different user groups, in varying contexts of use, and using diverse technological platforms (e.g. personal computers, mobile, wearable and smart devices, devices embedded in the environment), (b) the design and development of interaction techniques and assistive technologies for specific user groups with disabilities, (c) the development of universally accessible applications and services in various areas of daily life, (d) the development of universally accessible Ambient Intelligence and Extended Reality environments, and (e) accessibility evaluations and audits by experts, as well as accessibility and usability studies with end users.

The usability and accessibility evaluation activities progressed to become a horizontal Laboratory activity, catering not only for the internal needs of technologies developed in-house, but also for the requests of outside third parties for consultancy services. In this context, international (ISO) standards and best practices for usability evaluation and user experience evaluation are followed, along with the guidelines and (de facto) standards of the World Wide Web Consortium - Web Accessibility Initiative for accessibility evaluation (in accordance with the requirements of the Greek and the European legislation, as well as of the United Nations Convention.


Indicative Outcomes


Accessible portal for people with disabilities (2021): Design and development of the Greek Government’s accessible portal for people with disabilities, featuring announcements, the national action plan for accessibility, legislation, and information about the activities and outcomes of the National Accessibility Authority.

CocinAR (2017): CocinAR is an Augmented Reality (AR) system that has been developed to help the teaching of pre-schoolers (including cognitive impaired children) how to prepare simple meals. It includes a variety of exercises and mini games, aiming to instruct children: (i) which meals are appropriate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, (ii) how to cook simple meals (e.g. bread with butter and honey, lettuce salad, pasta with tomato sauce, etc.), and (iii) fundamental rules of safety and hygiene that should be applied during the food preparation process. The system supports multimodal input, utilizing tangible objects on a table-top surface and multimedia output available in textual, auditory and pictorial form. Profiling functionality is supported, allowing system to adapt to the needs and preferences of each individual user, while an extensive analytics framework that allows the trainers to monitor the progress of their students is provided. CocinAR consists of a computer, a high-resolution projector, a simple wooden table, an infrared camera and a high-resolution camera. With the aim to support an immersive user experience, the system is designed to “camouflage” itself in a way that none of the equipment used is visible to the users, leaving visible only the plain wooden table.

Home Game (2016): Home Game is an educational game that aims to familiarize pre-schoolers (including cognitive impaired children) with household objects, the overall home environment and the daily activities that take place in it. In addition to touch based interaction, the game supports physical interaction through printed cards on a tabletop setup by detecting and tracking the cards placed on the game board. Home Game features six types of mini-games and an extensive analytics framework that allows the trainers to monitor (even in real-time) the progress of their students. The system comprises a touch screen, a computer, and a high resolution camera overlooking the area in front of the screen. A custom casing has been designed especially for this game to hide the technology from sight.

Money Game (2016): An educational game targeted to pre-school age children and children with cognitive disabilities. The goal of the game is to familiarize children with money exchanges through virtual purchases and foster appropriate shopping and money exchange behavior. It can be played using the mouse but also real money.

Beantable (2013): Beantable is an augmented interactive table for children in the age-range from 2 to 7. The purpose of Beantable is to support children’s development through the monitored use of appropriate smart games in an unobtrusive manner. Beantable monitors the children’s interactions and extracts indications of the achieved maturity level and skills by taking into account the way the child plays. Furthermore, Beantable can act as a diagnostic tool that provides educators and child development experts with extensive data (extracted from the interaction history) that can be used for reasoning about whether the child is meeting all the necessary developmental milestones. The table, which has been custom made, is a wooden prototype designed and built to be robust and transferrable. The height of the Beantable can be adjusted accordingly to fit children’s needs as they grow. All the devices required for the operation of the applications are embedded inside its construction in a way that is invisible to the eye. A main display device is located on the top side of the actual table, and it is enabled with multi-touch and force-pressure sensitive capabilities. The table screen is able to recognize the location and the rotation of physical objects on the top, provided that each physical object carries at least one fiducial marker at its bottom. Games involving physical objects, such as puzzles, were selected as a testing domain. Two jigsaw puzzles (“Winnie the Pooh” and “The Three Little Pigs”), as well as a classic memory game (Pick & Match), were developed and tested with young children.

Remote Device Controller (2014): A system which allows a user with severe mobility impairments to remotely control household devices (TV set, a Digital TV decoder, a Satellite receiver, and a DVD player) through a single web-based interface and the use of a network enabled Infra-Red light transmitter.

myWebAccess (2013): A platform for repairing, enhancing and re-distributing Web Services accessible to people with disability.

The SYSPEAP portal (2013): An online platform system responsible for the Collection, Production, Enrichment and Exploitation of Multimedia Content that aims to promote the equal participation of people with disabilities in online information and multimedia content. For more information, see the leaflet.

ACCESSIBLE Unified assessment environment (2011): The environment comprises an interactive portal and a standalone tool to act as mediators to a number of accessibility assessment facilities for Web Content Accessibility Assessment, Mobile Web Content Assessment, Web Services Assessment and Description Languages.

A-Cross (2011): An accessible crossword puzzle for visually impaired users, aiming to support word solving in a novel and usable way.

Adaptive Widget Library (2010): An adaptation development toolkit and related widget library which directly embeds lexical level adaptations into common interactive widgets. The library targets the development of web services for older users. It has been fully embedded in the NetBeans Integrated Development Environment. For more information, see the leaflet.

5Cards (2010): An electronic 5 cards poker game for older users, adaptable to different age profiles and levels of playing expertise. The game also supports social interaction during playing. It has been developed using the Adaptable Widget Library

The General Secretariat for Research and Development portal (2010): The portal’s main objective is information diffusion over the scientific, research and industrial parties. For more information, see the leaflet.

AMEAnet (2009): This portal offers to disabled users personalized and informative eServices, available through mobile devices as well as traditional desktop PCs equipped with assistive technology, complying to WCAG 1.0 Level AAA as well as Mobile Web Best Practices (MWBP) version 1.0. For more information, see the leaflet.

FireScanner (2009): A browser add-on which provides access to the web for people with hand motor impairments, through the scanning technique.

MAID (2009): A Multi-platform Accessible Interface Design Framework, accompanied by a library of adaptable widgets – primitives and complex – that allow designers to develop the actual user interfaces used by the MAID framework, eliminating thus the need for developers to be experts in user interface design and accessibility in order to implement dynamic applications.

eGovernment Web Portal for disabled people (2008): This portal provide a series of web applications including: (i) the Online Citizen Service Center, a one-stop-shop service for information retrieval and application submission to public administration bodies; (ii) Job Finding Service, supporting people with disabilities in searching on – line for jobs, eliminating the need for their physical presence in the workspace in order to conduct any preliminary negotiations with employers; (iii) Digital library of assistive technology product and services, addressing individual users as well as public bodies and organizations; (iv) Voice Portal, as an alternative means to access the content available through the Online Citizen Service Center with the use of telephone. For more information, see the leaflet.

Starlight (2007): A novel software platform for developing and interacting with multimodal interactive electronic textbooks that provides a Dual User Interface, i.e., an interface concurrently accessible by visually impaired and sighted persons. For more information, see the leaflet.

Game Over! (2007): "Game Over!" is the world's first (and hopefully only) universally inaccessible game. The goal of this game is to be used as an educational tool for disseminating, understanding and consolidating game accessibility guidelines.

Terrestrial Invaders (2007): A UA-Game packed with numerous accessibility features that can be switched on and off, both off-line and on-the-fly. Actually, this game was developed in order to be able to create Game Over!.

EDeAN Portal (2007): A completely new adaptable portal for the support of the activities of the EDeAN Network, developed using the EAGER toolkit. For more information, see the leaflet.

EAGER (2007): A development toolkit that allows Web developers to build adaptive applications using facilities similar to those offered by commonly user frameworks. It is a developer framework build over ASP.NET providing adaptation-enabled ready to use dialogs. By means of EAGER, a developer can produce Web portals that have the ability to adapt to the interaction modalities, metaphors and user interface elements most appropriate to each individual user, according to profile information containing user and context specific parameters.

WebToAudio (2006): A tool supporting the transformation of web content into audio through the use of speech synthesis. WebToAudio allows saving the transformed content in MP3, wav and other formats, thus provding offline audio presentation and navigation of content for blind users, users with visual disabilities and users on the move.

ORIENT (2006): A tool for the walkthrough-based assessment of eServices. ORIENT is based on a new methodology which combines the evaluation of accessibility and usability, and more in general the user experience, throughout the usage lifecycle of eServices, taking into account different user needs and requirements and different environments of use.

Pages4VR (2006): A prototype web portal, including a variety of synchronous and asynchronous communication and collaboration tools, for the collaborative development of guidelines and standard in the domain of VR.

Access Invaders (2005): A universally accessible version of the popular classic "Space Invaders" action game.

King Pong (2005): A fully accessible remake of the classic "Pong" game supporting spatially localised audio, force feedback and advanced graphical effects.

SENSAI (2004): (Generic AI sensory system module) an open, extensible, modular approach for simulating a generic sensory system for creating intelligent creatures for computer games.

UnderGO (2004): A software game engine for animated 2D worlds supporting fast action and tile-based multilayer terrains.

UA-Chess (2004): A universally accessible multi-modal chess game, which can be played between two players, including people with disabilities (low-vision, blind and hand-motor impaired), either locally on the same computer, or remotely over the Internet.

ARGO (2004): A public system that integrates a Web browser with off-screen non-visual display transformation and delivery (for blind people) and a Web browser that supports the scanning technique through the use of binary switches(for people with motor impairements).

Home Access (2004): A smart home control interface supporting hierarchical scanning for motor impaired users.

MENTOR (2004): A tool for process-oriented support of Unified User Interface Design, providing facilities for the consistency verification of the designed adaptation logic.

Papyrus (2004): A web-based development suite for the implementation of digital libraries of User-Interface design guidelines, supporting collaborative and distributed deployment.

WebFace accessibility engine (2003): Tool for the dynamic transformation of web pages into personalisable and accessible versions.

I-doVE (2003): A digital library of design guidelines for the domain of virtual environment applications.

HERMES(2003): A web-based platform to enable systematic cooperation amongst members of the European Design for All e-Accessibility Network (EDeAN) and other thematic networks, stakeholders and actors in the field.

BreakOut (2003): The "traditional" breakout game implemented with fully distributed wireless wearable dynamic I/O.

Animatic (2003): A real-time 3D file manager, and animated windows events with heuristic particle systems.

IS4AL training course (2003): An on-line course about design approaches and methods that can be used to address the challenges of universal access in the context of Health Telematics.

PALIO(2003): A system that supports the provision of web-based services exhibiting automatic adaptation behaviour based on user and context characteristics, as well as the user current location.

SEN-IST-NET web Portal (2002): A portal providing information on Information Society Technologies (IST) for Special Educational Needs (SEN), including a Virtual Library, an extensive Resource Guide and a Case Study section with examples of innovative use of ICT.

Virtual Prints (ViPs) (2003): A novel, intuitive, interaction concept for supporting navigation, orientation, way-finding, as well as a number of additional functions in Virtual Environments.

NAUTILOS (2001): An information kiosk enabling accessibility by motor-impaired and blind users. Its interface supports the Greek language, offering Greek Braille and Greek synthetic speech, while supporting operation in dual interface mode, in which both the visual and the non-visual browsers are displayed concurrently with synchronisation of the loaded web site.

Fast Scanner (2001): A tool based on Microsoft Active Accessibility providing accessible interaction with interactive applications through the automatic "on-the-fly" activation of hierarchical scanning facilities.

Digital Library of Audio Books (2001): A non-visual digital library of digitised audio books.

Hawk (2000): A non-visual interface development toolkit that enables the programming of genuine non-visual interfaces embodying non-visual interaction metaphors.

FORTH Editor (2000): A text processor designed for users with motor impairment of upper limps, and users with learning or cognitive difficulties.

SEW Trainer (1999): A vocational training application for disabled people, specifically developed in order to provide cognitive impaired users with support for developing and enhancing the vocational skills required for table and bed linen production.

Canteen Manager (1999): A specifically designed application for users with learning difficulties and intellectual disabilities, providing cognitive impaired users with support for developing and enhancing the vocational skills required for the management of a refectory.

Unified User Interface Software architecture (1998): A novel architectural framework facilitating the development of interfaces that exhibit automatic adaptation behaviour, and best-fit dynamic interface assembly.

Unified User Interface Design Method (1998): A design method that facilitates the design of interfaces that exhibit automatic adaptation behaviour based on user and context related diversity factors.

AVANTI browser (1998): A universally accessible web browser with a unified user interface.

ESTIA NV Web Browser (1998): A web browser for blind users that supports a large number of special input /output devices and modalities of non-visual interaction.

ESTIA MI Web Browser (1998): A web browser that has been specifically designed in order to address the needs of people with severe motor difficulties of upper limps. The only interaction requirement on the part of the user is the ability to activate a binary switch.

Design-Aid (1998): A supporting tool environment for documenting and retrieving design rationale revealed and compiled through a scenario-based design process.

ScanLib (1997): An augmented version of the Windows object library with embedded hierarchical scanning facilities.

UVDMM (1997): The User Vocabulary Definition and Meaning Mapping Module (UVDMM) is a multilingual, multifunctional and easily extendible lexical knowledge base, intended for use in Interpersonal Communication Aids.

USE-IT (1996): A knowledge-based tool for automating the design of interactions at the physical level, so as to ensure accessibility of the target user interface by different user groups, including people with disabilities.

Sherlock (1996): A Guidelines Management System for articulating and depositing guidelines, facilitating the automatic usability inspection of tentative designs.

PIM (1996): The first tool reported to provide toolkit integration as a documented and reusable service. It allows proxy interface-toolkit specification and generation.

COMONKIT (1995): An interface toolkit for non-visual interaction, based on a specifically designed version of the Rooms metaphor.

The CORE shell system (1995): An Information Retrieval tool targeted to Assistive Technology actors who seek information on products and services, without being particularly aware of the organisation or structure of data residing on existing information systems.

CONFIG (1994): A screen reader configuration system that facilitates the customisation of non-visual environments for blind users.

INTERACT (1994): A user interface builder that supports the implementation of user interfaces accessible by disabled users.

ARITHMOULIS (1994): An educational software module developed for children with learning difficulties.

LOGOS (1991): An interpersonal communication system targeted to speech-motor, and language-cognitive impaired users.