Abstract. Television use does not require high skill or effort, which is ideal as a paradigm of use for ambient user interfaces. In this paper, universal access in ambient intelligence is modeled after the use of TV in everyday life. Instead of considering television only as a content medium and the focus of user activity, an alternative approach is to consider television use as a secondary function to other activities, such as socializing, domestic chores, leisure pursuits. For this purpose, the requirements for ambient user interactivity with TV are organized in a small set of design principles. The design principles have been selected, analyzed and synthesized from readings in previous works on media and ethnographic studies about television, and everyday life. It is suggested that universal access in ambient intelligence is promoted by considering design principles such as opportunistic interaction, user participation, group interactions, and multiple levels of attention to the user interface. Finally, the principles have been tested in the design of a user interface for interactive music television. This preliminary case suggests that the proposed principles facilitate the design of user interfaces that blend seamlessly with everyday life.