Integrating heterogeneous open-source software into web browsers using AMICO:WEB
A web browser provides a uniform user interface to different types of information. Making this interface universally accessible and more interactive is a long term goal still far from being achieved. Universally accessible browsers require novel interaction modalities and additional functionalities, for which existing browsers tend to provide only partial solutions. Although functionality for web accessibility can be found as open-source and free software components, their reuse and integration is complex because they were developed in diverse implementation environments, following standards and conventions incompatible with the web. To enable the integration of existing partial solutions within a mainstream web browser environment, we have developed a middleware infrastructure, AMICO:WEB. This enables browser access to a wide variety of open source and free software components. The main contribution of AMICO:WEB is in enabling the syntactic interoperability between web extension mechanisms and a variety of integration mechanisms used by open-source and free software components. It also bridges the semantic differences between the high-level world of web XML-based APIs and the low-level APIs of the device-oriented world. We discuss the design decisions made during the development of AMICO:WEB in the context of web accessibility, using two typical usage scenarios: one describing a disabled user using a mainstream web browser with additional interaction modalities; another describing a non-disabled user browsing in a suboptimal interaction situation.