I’ve already written about my systems-led approach to accessibility research. This series of articles is designed to put a little more flesh on the bone with a detailed look at how OOA/OOD (Object Oriented Analysis and Design) can be used to describe computer systems and their interaction with users.
1.2 A systems approach
Consideration of question (Q2) in section 1.1 above, “Who else may also use that solution?” quickly identified a number of independent but related problem domains relating to the user, to the device used to interact with the user, and to the solution represented by its interaction modalities that all required analysis. The relationships between those problem domains became the basis for much of my previous research, encapsulated within a definition of accessibility, discussed elsewhere and repeated here for convenience:
The purpose of my research consequently became an attempt to express that encounter in a measurable and quantitative manner such that the question, “Who else may use the solution?” becomes potentially answerable. In doing so, the research stepped away from experimental evaluation of real users performing practical activities, to an investigation of meta-models of capability, capacity, and content, and that led to an entirely different research approach based on a systems analyst’s view of accessibility.
Stepping away from an experimental, testable method of analyzing specific solutions for specific users in favour of searching for a meta-model that describes the general case of interaction between user and system required a reappraisal of the research method in terms of process, the work products, and the evaluation criteria applied.
Given that my research was now perceived to be a modelling problem in multiple ontologies, the natural choice to support that modelling process was systems analysis, together with a consideration of appropriate metrics for evaluation of the usefulness of the resulting work products.
The chosen starting point for this systems analysis was the Shlaer and Mellor Object Oriented Analysis and Design method (Shlaer and Mellor, 1988and 1992).