June 15, 2022, marked the end of support for Internet Explorer. It’ll go on being supported on some legacy servers for another seven years, but for all intents and purposes, the browser that led us through the explosion of Web 2.0 will take its place in the technology archives.
The sunset of Internet Explorer means that the end is also near for System Access to Go (or SAToGo), the first screen reader that could be launched directly from a web browser with no additional assistance. The web is a different place now than it was in 2007 when we launched SAToGo. Today’s web browsers are much more focused on both security and keeping the user in control, as they should be, and it is no longer practical for a website to talk the user through the process of downloading and running a program like SAToGo.
Thankfully, the assistive technology landscape has also changed for the better. In 2007, SAToGo provided a much-needed way of immediately accessing any Windows PC. But Narrator has come a long way in recent years, and it’s instantly available, free of charge, on any PC running Windows 10 or 11. Every other major platform also has a high-quality, free, built-in screen reader. We’re happy to say that SAToGo is no longer necessary in today’s more accessible world.
So what happens next? We know from Microsoft’s announcement that soon, when users run Internet Explorer, they will be redirected to Microsoft’s modern browser, Edge. But as far as we can tell, this is not happening yet, particularly on Windows 10. We also know that Microsoft will eventually remove Internet Explorer from Windows altogether, but we don’t know when that will happen. So for now, we will keep SAToGo running as long as people are still able to use it. While feature development on System Access itself has stopped, we continue to maintain the product as needed. Stay tuned to the Pneuma Solutions blog and email for further announcements about the future of System Access.
When Microsoft does eventually disable Internet Explorer completely, we know that the loss of SAToGo will be a drastic change for some of our users. But we are confident that Narrator is more than up to the task of providing immediate access to any Windows PC, as SAToGo has done for the past 15 years. If you currently depend on SAToGo, we strongly recommend that you start coming up to speed with Narrator, NVDA, or Jaws For Windows if you haven’t already, so you’ll be ready when Internet Explorer is gone for good.
And so we say farewell not only to Internet Explorer, but also to an era that witnessed the first of a few major market disruptors in the accessible technology industry. Under other circumstances, it might seem boastful to call it such, but considering we’re watching a significant chapter come to a close, it’s worth reflecting on the technology that played a pivotal role in bringing about the innovations we see today.
When Internet Explorer was launched in August 1995, no one would have guessed it would one day be possible for a blind person to pull up to any computer and launch a screen reader using a web browser. In many ways, SAToGo was years ahead of its time, but then, while we’re on the point, long-time members of the Serotek community will recall that FreedomBox was similarly years ahead of its time. Of course today our devices are smaller, sleeker, smarter, but the foundation for connectivity was always there.
It’s with a strong sense of pride that we observe the proliferation of built-in screen readers on major operating systems. There was a time, however, when the thought of launching a program to access email, Office documents, and miscellaneous web content on any random computer would have been a dream, but for the captains steering the Serotek ship, it was only the beginning of what we thought was possible given a little commitment and a lot of faith.
That momentous step forward, almost fifteen years ago to the day, was also important because of the financial ripple Serotek set in motion. We were determined to charge a fraction of what others were charging to grant access to your computer systems. That’s not a slap to the industry. In fact, we’ve openly acknowledged the worthwhile contributions of major giants who made it possible for us to design the roadmap that we did.
We’ve made great progress in the intervening years, but the financial point speaks to our capacity to work with what we had to empower the community without breaking the bank. And for this we tip our hats to Microsoft for unwittingly giving us the platform we needed in Internet Explorer to build greater access for our customers.
And now, many years later, we stand on the verge of a new chapter. In our new venture, Pneuma Solutions, we continue on our quest to fill in those persistent gaps that frustrate blind users and keep us from finding gainful employment and pursuing educational goals. We’ve come far, but as long as people with print disabilities continue to experience frustration accessing digital information in the World, our mission is far from accomplished.
And so, we raise our proverbial glass to Internet Explorer, for everything it helped us achieve in the moment and everything still yet to come. We’re very excited, for example, about the next evolution in browsing technology. It’s going to be productivity, security, synchronization, and accessibility in one streamlined package, and we can’t wait to have you put it through its paces.
Farewell to our old friend, Internet Explorer. Though its sunset has arrived, the world of innovation it helped usher in will endure.
Brent Bacome says
dear Mike, I want to thank you so much for this update. I certainly want to keep receiving correspondence from you.
Jeana Eriksen says
Dear Mike what will happen with our email? Will we still be able to access our email, and for how long? Will we need to get a new email account? And when? How much time do we have to get a new email account? I use Sero for my state, and county work. I like the screen magnification that comes with Sero, it is easier for me to use then magnifier. Also I don’t care much for Microsoft narrator because she does not read what I have written. She only reads the letters that I type one at a time. Is window eyes or Joz any better let me know thanks Jeana system access user
Zoraida Morrison says
I have to confess that I am one of those people who becomes very comfortable with technological sameness, in other words, I do not like change! I am the first one to acknowledge the fact that I must get over my fear of the new and different and tackle the challenges of doing things differently when the change comes. I want whoever reads this to take heart, that yes, having to learn to use a new screen reader or browser may be intimidating, but once I tackle the task of learning the new, with time and practice it becomes the comfortable, the familiar. I want whoever reads this to know that my experience with technology can be your experience as well. We must move forward by necessity, let us do it with courage and hope.
Michael Pedone says
Mike this is a great article and announcement! Great write up! Very professional and intelligent! I know I could have never have been able to put something like this together; so hats off to you or whomever wrote this all up! Excellent! I’ve experience this very thing when I tried to run SA to go a few weeks back when I received my new computer. I still receive the same message that System Access to go couldn’t detect your web browser. At the end of the message, it proceeded to tell me to just press enter to exit and while SA to go was reading that whole message, I couldn’t use any shortcuts or press any key to stop System Access to go from reading. So I had to just let it read it all the way through. I don’t want to use SA to go; but what I want to do is download and install my System Access license. What do I need to do in order to do that and how do I go about doing that so I can download and install my license? I love JAWS for Windows; but I want to see how System Access behaves with Windows 11 Home. That’s why I want to download my System Access license. Would alt control S even still work on Windows 11 Home? If not, I’ve learned that in order to start JAWS that I need to start it from the start menu by hitting the Windows logo key and typing it in the search box and then pressing enter.
Debra Gardner says
Dear Mike: I am so thankful to have system Access. I’ve been using it for the past 10 or more years. I’d hate to see it go as it is my main go-to screenreader. I can use NVDA, Narrator and the demo for Jaws when needed, but I still come back to System Access. It’s the most responsive screenreader I’ve ever used and I thought I would be a diehard Window-eyes user forever. I’ll be interested in what you decide to do with it in the future.