Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Two Exciting New System Access Subscription Opportunities

Serotek Corporation, the Accessibility Anywhere people, is proud to announce two exciting new options to extend accessibility to everyone. Serotek now makes its complete product offering available to people on a budget with two Software As a Service (SAS) options. For those who feel uncomfortable making any commitment, the entire Serotek offering including System Access Mobile with Neospeech and the System Access Mobile Network is available for the low, low price of $39.95 a month with no obligation. You can discontinue usage at any time and owe no cancellation fee. For those willing to commit to a forty-eight month relationship the price is just $24.95 per month. After forty-eight months you will have a paid up license to System Access Mobile with Neospeech. On-going use of the System Access Mobile Network (SAM Net) and continuing software updates will cost just $129.95 a year, guaranteed beginning in year 5 and beyond.

If you or someone you know has been caught in the dilemma of not being able to afford the accessibility tools you need and want because government agencies will only fund screen readers that are too complex and require too large an investment of your time to achieve minimal proficiency, this offer is for you. System Access Mobile is more than a screen reader, providing all the standard accessibility functions including access to the major Microsoft Office productivity tools including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook and Outlook Express, and many other popular applications like Adobe Reader, Internet Explorer, Skype, Windows Media Player and much, much more. And, with System Access Mobile you get Neospeech, delivering naturally sounding voices. In addition, System Access Mobile, in conjunction with the System Access Mobile Network delivers connectibility as you’ve never experienced it before. Access your home computer from work or on the road; exchange files; interact on-screen with friends and colleagues. System Access Mobile takes social networking to a whole new level.

Best of all, System Access Mobile is easy to use. In minutes you’ll be up and running, browsing the Internet, sending and receiving e-mail, and accessing your favorite productivity tools. Additional training is available for those who want to really put the software through its paces.

You also get full access to the System Access Mobile Network (SAM NET), the world’s most complete compilation of accessible sites for news, entertainment, shopping, information, and social networking. With SAM NET you can launch your own Web site, create and participate in Blogs, customize your news and entertainment. SAM NET puts you right in the center of the digital lifestyle, helping you enjoy the independence and productivity you crave. On SAM NET you’ll find a community of like-minded individuals who are taking control of their lives.

So if you’ve been hesitating because of the cost, now is the time to act. You can enjoy the digital lifestyle for less than a dollar a day ($.82/day actually). You’ll save that and more just by using an Internet telephone service like Skype, which is fully accessible to Serotek SAS subscribers. Why not give yourself (or someone you know) the digital lifestyle for the holidays. It will be the most liberating gift you’ve ever received.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Changes in System Access 2.30.137

New SA Mobile Network Browser

  • On some machines, PDF files would be opened in the browser window and would not be readable with System Access. This problem is fixed.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Living the Digital Lifestyle

This week I am in our Minneapolis office and was able to work with my computer at home, my Serotek intranet, and even hear music. I did all this without even plugging in a thumbdrive. Using SAToGo I did it all. I got to thinking about this digital lifestyle.

We’ve been seduced into it, often without even knowing that it is happening to us. In our pocket we have a cell phone that does an amazing number of things besides make voice calls. Quite likely we have some sort of music-playing device – an I-pod or MP3 player. We have a computer or two or three, probably wired together (or today, connected via a wireless network). Maybe we have a personal digital assistant or other type of note-taker. It’s a lot of gear, but we don’t think of any of these as gadgets anymore. They are necessities. We can’t imagine functioning without them.

Welcome to the digital lifestyle. But it’s more than devices.

We are also members of a variety of online services for social networking, entertainment, education, information. We order our movies and music online and maybe pizza. We “Google” anything we need to know. We are “wired” into any number of online communities and exchange information on our blog or podcast or comment on other people’s blogs or podcasts. We have a Website where people can view our family or do business with us. When something goes wrong they can log on and follow our progress in the hospital or say nice things about us in our obituary.

And then there are our software tools – word processors, picture editors, Web page editing tools, browsers, screen readers or other accessibility tools – whatever we need to be involved and stay involved.

It doesn’t look very much like the Jetsons or any other futuristic conception from the last century. It’s a whole lot more practical and common place than that and yet, if you look, much of the gee whiz stuff is in everyday use – picture phones, tracking devices, robots.

The future snuck up on us and we didn’t even notice.

For a blind guy this is sort of heaven. Today I can do a hundred things without thinking about them each of which would have been a major production ten years ago. Think about it: shop, fill out a government or business form, write my congressman, text or talk to my wife while I’m standing in line ready to board my plane, get the plane ticket, reserve the hotel room, pick up the information off of my home computer that I forgot to load onto my laptop, listen to ten tunes my best-buddy told me I’d like, scan a dozen articles, order groceries, amuse myself playing an online game, pay my bills, get paid, invest in stocks, find out why my guide dog Jacksan is scratching himself silly. I can make this list as long as you’d like. I do it all using my computer, cell phone, or Personal digital assistant and I do it wherever I am.

I’m no longer dependent. I’m in charge. I am completely blind but my blindness is rarely more than a minor inconvenience. How did that happen? It’s the digital lifestyle. It makes molehills out of mountains and the impossible pretty simple. It puts an entire universe of people and services at my beck and call. And together we can do almost anything.

There is a problem, though. Of the millions and millions of blind people in the world there are fewer than five hundred thousand living the digital lifestyle today. And that isn’t fair. Anything this good and simple, immediately available to every sighted teenager in the world, should be available to every blind person as well.

That’s what my company, Serotek, is about. Our motto is Accessibility Anywhere and you can add to that for everyone. Our mission is to give every blind person everywhere an equal opportunity to participate in the digital lifestyle.

Of course we can only make it available. Then the choice is up to the blind person. He or she can put on the digital lifestyle and live free and independently in the modern world, or not. But we are rapidly approaching a time when no blind person can say that they don’t have the opportunity. The digital lifestyle is within almost everyone’s reach from grade school kid to grandmother. It’s there, it’s easy to use, it’s inexpensive. Adopting the digital lifestyle will take cost out of your life.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Changes in System Access

Internet Explorer

  • When doing a continuous read in a multi-line HTML edit box, such as when compsing an email message, the cursor now follows the speech.

New SA Mobile Network Browser

  • On machines where Windows Media Player is the default for MP3 files, Windows Media Player no longer preempts the SA Mobile Media Player when you activate a link to an MP3 file in the new browser.

  • The spell checker now works regardless of the length of the text being checked.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Problem with Open-Source Access Technology

I recently read an interesting blog post by Chris Hofstader, which is in part inspired by Mike Calvo's recent article The Coming Crisis. He argued that open-source access technology is starting to gain traction and that open-source AT might be a viable solution to our industry's current problems. In response, I believe it's extremely unlikely that an open-source or non-profit project would match the usefulness and usability of commercial AT. In this post, I will try to explain why.

Let's consider this statement from Chris's post:

"It would also be useful if Microsoft made Narrator open source, slapped on GPL and let the bazillion Windows hackers around the world take a crack at it. There are a ton of blind programmers who program for Windows who would enjoy the opportunity to hack away at a stable, albeit feature poor, screen reader."

(end of quote)

Does this strike anyone else as naive? Sure, there are a bazillion Windows programmers around the world, but how many of them would have any interest whatsoever in Narrator? Moreover, who would coordinate all of those contributions to produce something that's useful to non-geeks? NVDA seems to fit the description of "stable, yet feature poor"; it's not as feature poor as Narrator, but it's still feature poor in comparison to its commercial counterparts. So if a ton of blind programmers would enjoy hacking away at such a screen reader, then why doesn't NVDA even have all of the features of System Access 1.0?

Before I attempt to answer that question, let me defend the assertion I just made, that NVDA doesn't have all of the features that System Access had at version 1.0. My intent is not to belittle the efforts of Michael Curran and the other NVDA developers. In fact, Serotek has contributed code to the NVDA project in the past. However, I believe that the open-source development model is not well-suited for developing a screen reader. I make the comparison between NVDA and System Access 1.0 for two reasons. First, as sole developer of System Access thus far, I know its history very well. Second, even we at Serotek considered System Access 1.0 feature poor; though we marketed its strengths aggressively, we knew the product needed more work in certain areas. Yet System Access 1.0 had a few important features that NVDA does not. It seems, then, that this is the best possible comparison I can make between an open-source AT project and a commercial one. So let's zoom in to a level of detail that has been missing from this discussion thus far, to compare NVDA and System Access 1.0 on a few points.

First, System Access 1.0 had an off-screen model (OSM). To be sure, the OSM was in its infancy at version 1.0; it needed much work for version 2.0. Still, the OSM was very useful in some situations. It enabled access to some menus which don't expose item names through MSAA, such as those in RealPlayer. It was able to detect highlighted text, such as in custom list views. It made owner-drawn status bars, such as the one in Skype, accessible. It helped us provide access to the spell checker in Word 2002. In short, an off-screen model is a very important feature that's missing in all of the current free screen readers for Windows. System Access 1.0 had one because we knew it was a must-have, and we realized that even a primitive OSM was appreciably better than no OSM.

Second, System Access 1.0 provided automatic access to the Microsoft Word spell checker. I remember well the time that I spent making System Access work well with the spell checker in different versions of Word; the aforementioned Word 2002 was especially problematic. We knew that the spell checker is one of the most important features of Word and that any serious screen reader alternative for Windows needs to support Word well. In contrast, NVDA doesn't seem to support the spell checker at all. If you press F7 in a document with a misspelled word, you will eventually hear the content of the "not in dictionary" edit box, after NVDA reads the rest of the dialog with a level of verbosity comparable to Narrator. However, as far as I know, NVDA cannot spell the misspelled word. This feature isn't nearly as difficult as the OSM, so why hasn't one of the blind programmers hacking away at NVDA attacked this feature yet?

Third, System Access 1.0 generally presented information in a more intuitive, efficient way than NVDA does. I realize that this is the most subjective of the three features I've mentioned, but I also believe it's more important than the other two. As I mentioned before, NVDA's verbosity is comparable to Narrator's. The result of such verbosity is that users must either listen through a lot of extraneous speech to hear what they want, or master the keyboard commands that are needed to obtain the desired information. Thus, System Access has always aimed to present relevant information automatically while not being too verbose. This is a delicate balancing act, but it's necessary for a product that aims to be useful to a large number of people.

So why doesn't NVDA have these important features of System Access 1.0, which was developed in about three months and released in January 2005? Jamie Zawinski, one of the original programmers at Netscape, gives us a few clues in his rant "Resignation and Postmortem." Among his list of common excuses for why the Mozilla project didn't even release a beta in its first year is this one:

"People only really contribute when they get something out of it. When someone is first beginning to contribute, they especially need to see some kind of payback, some kind of positive reinforcement, right away."

(end of quote)

Unfortunately, many of the features that are most needed in a screen reader, especially a Windows screen reader, are not the kind that can be casually hacked together with an immediate payback to the contributor. Consider the off-screen model. It took me at least a week of full-time work to develop even the primitive OSM that shipped in System Access 1.0. Thus, after a large number of easily implemented features are done, it becomes much harder for casual contributors to help the project, and the features that remain undone are the hard but important ones.

Elsewhere in his rant, Zawinski said:

"There exist counterexamples to this, but in general, great things are accomplished by small groups of people who are driven, who have unity of purpose. The more people involved, the slower and stupider their union is."

(end of quote)

Oddly, he wasn't talking about the Mozilla project here; he was talking about Netscape the company. Still, though he may not have realized it, I believe the same principle applies to open-source projects. What we need is not a large number of volunteers hacking away at an open-source screen reader; we need a small team of dedicated, motivated programmers. And to be sufficiently dedicated to the project, said programmers probably need to be paid to work on it full-time.

We need to consider, then, who currently funds work on open-source AT, and what effect the source of the funding has on the outcome. The most obvious example is Sun. Based on the rate at which Sun's work on GNOME accessibility has moved forward over the past seven years, it's safe to say that Sun's GNOME accessibility team isn't sufficiently "driven," with "unity of purpose," to use Zawinski's words. Considering that Sun is a large hardware and software company whose core business is not accessibility, it's safe to suppose that their chief motivation for funding work on GNOME accessibility is to be compliant with certain legislation, in order to increase sales to government agencies. Thus, those who make high-level decisions about accessibility probably don't care much about producing something that's actually useful to blind and low-vision people.

Consider the history of screen reader development for the GNOME desktop. As Chris rightly noted, the Gnopernicus screen reader failed quite miserably. Yet as of mid-2003, Sun could claim that GNOME was accessible to blind users, albeit barely so. As far as I know, the situation didn't change substantially until mid-2004, when my good friend Marc Mulcahy, who worked for Sun on GNOME accessibility at the time, took the initiative to start developing Orca on his own. He had to get through much corporate red tape just to get Orca released. I've seen evidence that there's still too much bureaucracy in the Sun GNOME accessibility team; refer to the Orca Documentation Series to see what I mean. Perhaps bureaucracy is just another name for what Zawinski describes as a slow, stupid union of too many people. The history of Gnopernicus and Orca is an example of what happens when AT development is funded by a big corporation that has no incentive to deliver truly useful results. Incidentally, Marc left Sun in late 2004 to start working on what is now the LevelStar Icon PDA.

Chris suggests that development of open-source AT could be coordinated by a foundation or consortium with support from corporations and governments around the world. But would the results be any better than what Sun has produced thus far? Would such an organization attract the right people, that is, great programmers who are driven to produce better AT that really improves people's lives? We must also wonder what kind of leadership such an organization would have. I suspect that especially if many large sponsors are involved, politics would get in the way, resulting in less than optimal leadership, which can be at least as harmful as bad or mediocre programmers.

Another problem with the notion of no-cost AT as the norm is that it would take power away from blind and low-vision people as consumers. In a free market, where companies compete for the consumer's business, the consumer wins. If no-cost AT, open-source or otherwise, were the norm, then most blind and low-vision people would have no say in the development of the available products, because there would be no natural incentive for any particular company or organization to rise to the top. In this light, one might argue that even a temporary monopoly is better. Chris observes that FS and AI Squared have obtained virtual monopoly status in their markets. But they got there by developing great products. And why did they develop great products? To increase their sales during a period when the AT industry was fiercely competitive. Of course, now that they have monopoly status, these companies have apparently stopped innovating. But monopolies won't last; even empires fall. Perhaps the strongest motivation to develop an excellent product is the prospect of a temporary monopoly in an industry fueled by strong competition for the wallets of consumers. If this is so, then no-cost AT as the norm would be bad news indeed for blind and low-vision people, as it would kill the catalyst for innovation: competition for sales.

Yet another problem with the notion of no-cost AT backed by a non-profit organization or government agency is that it perpetuates a sense of entitlement among blind and low-vision people. No, it's not our fault that we're blind or low-vision. But it's not society's fault either. We shouldn't depend on governments, philanthropists, or anyone else to solve our problems. They don't have our best interests at heart, anyway; only we do. Remember that by and large, politicians and philanthropists care most about what's in it for them, be it publicity, power, or an appeased conscience. There are exceptions, of course, but this is the rule. It stands to reason, then, that politicians and philanthropists wouldn't really care about providing technology that best meets our needs. No, it's up to us to buy and use technology, assistive or otherwise, that improves our lives.

Mind you, I'm by no means an advocate for the status quo. It's widely accepted that because most current AT products are so expensive, they're purchased mostly by government agencies. This, too, deprives blind and low-vision people of the power that normally belongs to consumers, and perpetuates a sense of entitlement, as discussed above. Furthermore, as Mike Calvo points out in The Coming Crisis, the community of blind and low-vision people at large is grossly underserved by current AT. Yes, FS and AI Squared dominate their markets, but these markets certainly don't represent blind and low-vision people at large. It's odd, then, that the most commonly cited reason for the high cost of AT is the small size of the market. If AT is developed for more than just a niche market, maybe competition will be effective again.

The solution is neither high-cost AT that has a virtual monopoly on a small market, nor no-cost AT that isn't widely useful because it lacks the drive of competition for consumers. Rather, the solution is low-cost AT that competes for the business of a large and mostly untapped market. If this happens, then blind and low-vision people all over the world will ultimately win.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Changes in System Access

This update contains bug fixes related to Internet Explorer 6.

  • The "Browse" button in file upload controls is now accessible with IE 6.

  • List boxes, particularly multiple-selection list boxes, now work in IE 6 as in IE 7.

  • In our new browser, HTTP authentication, sometimes called "realm authentication" to distinguish it from the more common form-based login, now works with IE 6 as with IE 7.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Changes in System Access

This update fixes a few bugs with regard to password fields. In particular, key echo now works as expected in password fields.

Changes in System Access

New SA Mobile Network Browser

  • You can now activate numbered links using the numeric keypad, as long as Num Lock is active.

  • In the dialog for setting the location of a download, changed the "Save Here" button to "Set Location Here and Close", to make it more intuitive.

The Coming Crisis

Doom and Gloom! There, we got it out.

Actually this article is about hope and promise and a better life for everyone, but the background is not very encouraging. And without the background, the discussion doesn’t make much sense.

Here’s the basic premise. Vision loss and age are inextricably linked. There are eight million visually-impaired people in the U.S. and 80% are age fifty or greater. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. As we age our bodies deteriorate and the eyes are specifically vulnerable to diseases like:
• Macular degeneration
• Diabetic Retinopathy
• Glaucoma
• Cataracts
• Corneal opacity

The current assessment is that 800,000 people age 65 and older in the U.S. are totally blind. By 2015 it will be 1.5 million and by 2030 it will be 2.4 million.

The cause is simply the aging of the population. As the “Baby Boomers” hit retirement the graying population will increase dramatically and the prevalence of blindness will likewise increase. We can and are making great strides in attacking various causes of blindness, but we can’t stop people from getting older.

Certainly everyone knows this “graying” is occurring. From AARP to Social Security there is a great deal of planning and marketing going on relative to the sharp growth anticipated among the nation’s elderly. But there has not been a lot written about what this means to the nation’s blind services structure. For the most part, and in most states, different organizations manage issues regarding the elderly and those pertaining to vocational rehab. But when it comes to dealing with the newly blind, many of the issues are the same and the resources in place are not sufficient to respond to the coming need.

As things stand today, seniors losing their vision are going to be hard-pressed to maintain their independence. And this is a real shame because today, with the availability of resources of all kinds over the Internet, there is no reason for a blind person not to live independently. The digital lifestyle means liberation for people with blindness and low vision and baby boomers, like no aging group before them, are well versed in its benefits. Yet the supporting agencies are not prepared to help them make this transition.

What are the benefits? Here’s a list we’ve compiled:
• Community: individuals can interact and share information and experiences with other like-minded individuals at will
• Awareness: The Internet provides nearly instant access to news and information of all kinds. People using this source of information are significantly better informed and aware of world events than those who do not have access.
• Information: The Internet is the best single reference source for information of all kinds. With the aid of a search engine, a user can access the vast library of government publications plus an even larger library of private information sources. There are few, if any, subjects that cannot be successfully researched via the Internet.
• Employment: Computer usage is virtually essential for any meaningful employment in the modern world. Via the Internet, persons can not only be employed but often work from their homes.
• Entrepreneurial activities: The Internet makes it possible for any individual to sell goods and/or services to a worldwide market.
• Education: A computer and computer skills are essential for modern education. Via the Internet, a person can pursue a wide range of educational opportunities ranging from acquisition of technical skills to completing high school, to acquiring a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and/or Ph.D. from accredited online universities.
• Entertainment: Via the computer and Internet one can enjoy virtually any desired entertainment from described DVS’s or downloads of popular movies to thousands of Internet radio channels, to games of all types, and all manner of hobby-related forums.
• Health services: Self-care, healthy living programs, health coaching and ask-the-doctor information is all available on the Web.
• Shopping: From necessities to luxuries, one can buy anything via the Web, all without leaving the comfort of one’s home.
• Finance: Online banking, investing, loans – almost any financial activity can be carried out over the Web
• Creative arts: Writing and music are two creative activities that the blind can enjoy using digital technology.
• Counseling: Online support groups are available for a wide range of issues from grief-management to depression to cancer survival.
• Spiritual: Whatever your path, the Web has resources to support you ranging from virtually all conventional religions to a huge array of less conventional spiritual paths.

The simple ability to stay connected to family and friends via e-mail is enough to make being online worth it to most seniors. Add Internet-based telephone services like Skype and people can stay connected to loved ones around the world, for peanuts. But today, in the world of conventional assistive technology, it costs the elderly person (or the supporting agency) several thousand dollars and weeks or months of study – with all the necessary transportation – just to be able to send and receive e-mail. That’s insane.

And it’s unnecessary.

Nationwide, blind services organizations march lockstep to the beat of conventional screen reader technology. That is their sole solution to blind accessibility and no matter the situation they apply it. As the saying goes, “when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

But as good as conventional screen readers are, they are without exception complex and difficult to learn. They are expensive and they require weeks or months of training to achieve proficiency. Once proficient, a blind person can do amazing things. But most elderly people or new users lack the core technical skills to master conventional screen readers and agencies lack the resources to purchase the high priced software and training required.

But in fact, for the cost of rehabilitating a single blind person with conventional screen reader technology, an agency can deliver full accessibility to four to six blind people who are not looking to become computer professionals. Assuming a conventional screen reader cost about $1,000 and requires about $3,000 in training for the user to achieve proficiency, Serotek’s System Access Mobile cost $499 and a user can be trained in about two to ten hours. You do the math.

Moreover, using Serotek’s RIM (Remote Incident Manager) or Remote Training and Support the user can be trained over the Internet, with no need to travel and take up class room space. The service agency can provide one-to-one, on-screen tutoring with the trainer and the student both working from the comfort and convenience of their own homes.

Logic would suggest that state agencies and local rehabilitation organizations would welcome tools like System Access Mobile and RIM with open arms. With them they can help more blind people for less money. How can they not be excited?

But logic doesn’t take into account inertia. The entire organization is structured for conventional screen readers. That’s how budgets are developed; that’s where training skills are concentrated. There may even be a vague fear that if it is that easy to give newly blind people accessibility, training jobs will be in danger. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Even with the six-fold (or greater) multiplier effect that System Access delivers, the demand will continue to exceed the supply as the population ages.

Unfortunately, the person with the least say in this decision is the newly blind person. He or she basically gets what’s he or she is given as decided by the professionals. The result is that people in need of accessibility tools are hugely underserved. A mere handful of blind people (perhaps eight to ten) end up with the ability to access the digital lifestyle out of every hundred or so who need accessibility help. And that is extraordinarily costly. A blind person without accessibility consumes far more resources in terms of personal care, medical care, social services, and welfare than a blind person with full access to the digital lifestyle. And, sadly, the person without access lives a much more enclosed life and is more apt to fall prey to depression. Without accessibility, blindness is a prison sentence; with it, it’s a minor inconvenience.

There is, of course, no incentive for the producers of conventional screen reader technology to make their products less expensive and easier to learn. This isn’t a “free market” where they must compete head-to-head against alternate solutions. Rather it’s a captive market where the buyer has no choice. The in-place infrastructure has a bias towards maintaining the status quo, even at the expense of the nation’s ever growing population of newly blind elderly people. We on the outside can call for a level playing field, where consumers can make their own informed choices, but those who have control of the playing field have no interest in making this a fair contest.

At Serotek we believe that when you can’t win through evolution, it’s time to start a revolution and we have one in the making. When an infrastructure does not serve the people it was created to serve, it’s time to look for ways to make the infrastructure irrelevant. We have been pushing the technology envelope for six years and our latest product, System Access to Go, available directly over the Internet on demand, may be the catalyst for change.

We are working with a number of people who have the interest of the individual blind person at heart. We are close to making an announcement that we believe will simply change the way accessibility happens – to the benefit of all. We invite you to stay tuned. But in the meantime, don’t hesitate to rock the boat. Change won’t happen unless we work to make it happen. “Information without accessibility is tyranny!” Where the heck is that tea?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Changes in System Access

This version is available now for all System Access packages.

Windows Live Messenger

  • The accent grave key, which reads the most recent message, works again; it was broken in the previous update.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Changes in System Access

This version is available now for all System Access packages.

This update introduces a new beta version of the SA Mobile Network browser. When you choose to connect to the SA Mobile Network from the System Access menu, System Access will ask if you want to use this browser. For now, you may still use the old browser if you wish, unless you're using SA to Go, for which the old browser was never available. However, we encourage you to try the new browser and provide feedback.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

SAToGo Beta – Phase 2

Thank you for participating in the first phase of Beta testing for Seroteks amazing online accessibility tool, SAToGo. We are reviewing your many comments and making adjustments to the product in response. The initial reaction from beta users is that SAToGo is an astounding success.

Effective October 15, 2007, the public beta phase is ended. We are now moving into the second phase of Beta testing which focuses on interaction with features of the System Access Mobile Network. subscribers can continue their use of SAToGo indefinitely. Those who are not yet subscribers but would like to continue to use SAToGo are invited to subscribe. A one-year subscription to costs $229 for the first year and $129 for every year of continuous service after that for life. Or you can purchase System Access Mobile, for $499 Seroteks award winning screen reader alternative for PC access at home, on the job, or at school, including a license for a U3 compatible thumb drive. Purchase this package and get a years subscription to at no additional charge. Offer is valid until December 1st 2007. In either case, you will be able to continue to use SAToGo and exercise some of the unique features of the SAMobile Network. In particular, you can use SAMobile.Nets Remote Training and Support feature, connecting to your home or office system directly through the network from anywhere, operating your home system remotely as if you were sitting at the keyboard, accessing your files and using your home systems resources even if you have another screen reader installed on the remote computer. Similarly, on invitation, you can share the desktop of any other SAMobile.Net user, helping a friend fix a system problem, showing someone how to use an application, or collaborating on a key document, again even if they have a different screen reader installed.

If you thought SAToGo was a powerful stand-alone accessibility tool, wait until you try it in its full glory, with access to and the largest concentration of accessible content ever assembled with the visually impaired user in mind. Create your own website, shop, blog, e-mail, access described videos, news, and much more.

And stay tuned to see where SAToGo goes next. Accessibility anywhere. Isnt that the way it should be??

Monday, October 1, 2007

Changes in System Access

This version is available now for all System Access packages.

Internet Explorer

  • Fixed a bug that sometimes caused SA to crash IE on a page with read-only text fields.


  • Fixed a problem that occurred when using Caps Lock or NumPad 0 in the normal way and not as an SA modifier.