I was in a meeting the other day with a client and my business partner, Greg Smart, was giving our usual spill about standards compliance to the client and brought up the Target Lawsuit filed a few years back by the National Federation for the Blind.
This lawsuit is of particular importance to those of us in the development community because it could potentially set a precedent for accessibility that our clients will need to adhere to moving forward to decrease their liability exposure.
For those of you who are not developers and haven’t followed this lawsuit very closely, it basically alleges that the website wasn’t usable for blind visitors because the images didn’t have alt tags associated with them which would give the visitor a description of each image.
I found an update on this case on 456 Berea Street’s blog and decided to repost it below for any of you that might be interested:
In March last year I posted Target sued for refusing to make their website accessible, where I talked about the USA-based retail chain being sued by the US National Federation of the Blind. The reason for the lawsuit was that Target refused to, among other things, put alt text on images and make the site usable without a mouse.
Since then there has not been a lot of news about the case, at least not that I am aware of. I had started thinking that nothing would come out of it, and that Target would get away with having an inaccessible website (and keep living in the past when it comes to Web development practices). But recent news indicates that it’s not over yet.
The judge in the case has now given the lawsuit class-action status, which, if I understand it correctly, means that any blind person in the USA who has unsuccessfully tried to use target.com can become a plaintiff in the suit against Target. Good news I think. If a business can’t be bothered to make their website accessible, especially after repeatedly being made aware of the problems and given plenty of time to make adjustments, it should cost them. A lot.
Over the last week plenty of articles about this lawsuit have been posted on various sites. Reading the comments on some of them (mostly those posted on sites whose audience does not primarily consist of standards-aware web developers) is… how shall I put it… entertaining. No, frustrating. Some people have very strange and misinformed opinions on how horribly limiting and even impossible it apparently is to build accessible websites.
What it does mean is that people who design and program websites need to be aware of modern best practices in web design and development. Which we all should anyway, since it’s part of our job.
- The Associated Press: Target Lawsuit Given Class-Action Status
- The Montoya Herald: Suing companies over inaccessible websites
- Wall Street Journal: Advocates for Web Access for Blind Pass Legal Hurdle
- Accessify: Is this the test case we’ve all been waiting for?
- Computerworld: Court allows class-action lawsuit against Target Web site
- Michelle Malkin: Blind shoppers get green light to sue Target over website
- eWEEK: Court Rules Against Target in Web Site Accessibility Lawsuits
- Joe Dolson: More News on the Target Accessibility Lawsuit
- Ars Technica: Lawsuit over web site accessibility for the blind becomes class action
- Ajaxian: Two rulings that could improve web accessibility
- Accessites.org: Is the Target Lawsuit Frivolous?
- TechCrunch: Websites May Require Visually Impaired Access In California