It’s true. OE Classic is becoming accessible.

I wonder how many people remember outlook express? Not the bulky outlook that ships with Microsoft Office Word but the clean one, the simple email client that just, frankly, worked.

I know many don’t remember it and few uses it today because it’s not supported, but apparently, some people still like the classic outlook express. So much so that they made a program called OE Classic. It’s a build for modern windows. A retro new program, if you will.

This new program, well, new and old, isn’t open source but it’s developing into a nice and attractive alternative to Thunderbird. A few years ago, I wrote to them about their lack of accessibility support in the program. They told me that they were a very small team and that accessibility was on the way. To be honest I didn’t believe them until I got a follow up email. I pointed them to NVDA ages ago and I heard absolutely nothing from them…

Side note, I have been editing the NVDA wiki all weekend. I’d like to add to the accessible programs page so I may do that sometime soon, but alas, anyway!

The below is an email update I thought that I’d never receive. It says that they are indeed working on accessibility. I wish they would open source the code but then again, FFO won’t release window eyes to the open source community, so I doubt these folks will either, but the below shows they are at least working on accessibility.

As you’ve asked about OE Classic accessibility before, we are emailing you to inform you of the changes we did.
We’ve identified some problems with controls which were not accessible and started adjusting the program to be more accessible.
For a start, we’ve made a full adjustment in the Account Wizard window. This is one of about 30 windows used in OE Classic.
This window (account wizard) should now be fully accessible and readable by most screen-readers. We tested it with NVDA but it should also work with Jaws, Windows Eyes and others. NVDA reads it now as we intended, but it may still misbehave in other screen-readers. You may want to try it out.
What we are interested in now to further adjust the program is your feedback – how the account wizard behaves for you and how your screen-reader (and which one you use) reads it.
If it proves to be good enough, we will follow the same guidelines to adjust other windows except this one, and in time program should be fully adjusted to accessibility. So, feel free to let us know.
The new, improved Account Wizard window is in version 2.7, released on May 31st, 2017, available to Pro version users. Free version won’t be available for a while.