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< Contents ERCIM News No. 52, January 2003

The 7th ERCIM Workshop on 'User Interfaces for All'

by Noëlle Carbonell and Constantine Stephanidis

The 7th Workshop of the ERCIM Working Group 'User Interfaces for All' took place in Paris (Chantilly), France, on 23-25 October 2002, building upon the results of the six previous Workshops held in Heraklion, Crete, Greece, 30-31 October 1995; Prague, Czech Republic, 7-8 November 1996; Obernai, France, 3-4 November 1997; Stockholm, Sweden, 19-21 October 1998; Dagstuhl, Germany, 28 November -1 December 1999; and Florence, Italy, 25-26 October 2000.

The vision of User Interfaces for All (UI4ALL) advocates the proactive realisation of the 'design for all' principle in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and involves the development of user interfaces to interactive applications and telematic services, which provide universal access and usability to potentially all users. In the tradition of its predecessors, this year's workshop aimed to consolidate recent work and to stimulate further discussion on the state of the art in User Interfaces for All and its increasing range of applications in the emerging Information Society.

The emphasis of this year's event was on 'Universal Access'. The requirement for Universal Access stems from the growing impact of the fusion of the emerging technologies, as well as from the different dimensions of diversity intrinsic to the Information Society. These dimensions become evident when considering the broad range of user characteristics, the changing nature of human activities, the variety of contexts of use, the increasing availability and diversification of information, knowledge sources and services, the proliferation of technological platforms, etc. In this context, Universal Access refers to the accessibility, usability and, ultimately, acceptability of Information Society Technologies by anyone, anywhere, anytime, thus enabling equitable access and active participation of potentially all citizens in existing and emerging computer-mediated human activities. The user population includes people with different cultural, educational, training and employment background, novice and experienced users, the very young and the elderly, as well as people with different types of disabilities, in various contexts of use. As people experience technology through their interaction with the user interfaces of applications and services, the field of HCI plays a critical and catalytic role towards a universally accessible, usable and acceptable Information Society.

This year's workshop has attracted the strongest ever interest worldwide, with a total of nearly 100 registered participants. The Draft Workshop Proceedings appeared as an INRIA research report and ERCIM Workshop Adjunct Proceedings. The official Workshop Proceedings will be published by Springer as part of LNCS (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) series, in the subline 'State-of-the-Art Surveys', and will be embedded in the LNCS digital library. Keynote speakers in this year's workshop were Alfred Kobsa, University of California, Irvine, USA, with a speech entitled 'Universal Access and Privacy: Making AVANTI Legal', and Steven Pemberton, CWI with a speech entitled 'The Kiss of the Spiderbot'.

The Workshop's technical programme comprised 80 submissions accepted for presentation as long/short/position papers or posters, covering a wide range of topics that include novel interaction paradigms and contexts of use, universal access to multimedia applications, software design and architecture for User Interfaces for All, design issues in User Interfaces for All, new modalities and dialogue styles, accessibility issues in novel interaction paradigms, design and usability in mobile computing and privacy issues in the context of Universal Access.

Some of these topics constitute core elements in a joint programme of research for a proposed Network of Excellence (NoE) submitted by the ERCIM Working Group 'User Interfaces for All' in the context of the European Commission's 6th Framework Programme. The focus of the associated expression of interest is on short-, medium- and long-term activities towards a new foundation for designing and developing user interface software and technologies to empower citizens' interaction with distributed and context-aware environments of use in the context of an inclusive Information Society.

From the year 2001 onwards, the UI4ALL Working Group Workshop has become a bi-annual event, in alternation with the newly established 'Universal Access in Human-Computer Interaction' (UAHCI) Conference, which is also held every two years. The 2nd International Conference on Universal Access in Human-Computer Interaction will take place on 22-27 June 2003, in Crete, Greece .

ERCIM Working Group UI4ALL Web Page:

Please contact:
Noëlle Carbonell, LORIA, UMR CNRS & INRIA, Workshop Programme Chair and Local Organiser
Tel: +33 3 83 59 20 32

Constantine Stephanidis, ICS-FORTH, Working Group and Workshop Chair
Tel: +30 2810 391741