'Target.Com is Targeted' with Legal Precedent Set for Web Accessibility


This thread on SearchGuild pointed to a Legal Precedent Set for Web Accessibility. The costs for this could be astronomical, Target.Com was 'targeted'

Target's website contains significant access barriers that prevent blind customers from browsing among and purchasing products online, as well as from finding important corporate information such as employment opportunities, investor news, and company policies.

The plaintiffs charge that target.com fails to meet the minimum standard of web accessibility. It lacks compliant alt-text, an invisible code embedded beneath graphic images that allows screen readers to detect and vocalize a description of the image to a blind computer user. It also contains inaccessible image maps and other graphical features, preventing blind users from navigating and making use of all of the functions of the website. And because the website requires the use of a mouse to complete a transaction, blind Target customers are unable to make purchases on target.com independently.

The plaintiffs originally filed the complaint in Alameda superior court on February 7, 2006. The case was removed to federal district court and assigned to Judge Marilyn Hall Patel. Target responded to the suit by filing a motion to dismiss the case, which argued in part that no civil rights laws apply to the Internet.

"We tried to convince Target that it should do the right thing and make its website accessible through negotiations," said Dr. Maurer. "It is unfortunate that Target took the position that it does not have to take the rights of the blind into account. The ruling in this case puts Target and other companies on notice that the blind cannot be treated like second class citizens on the Internet or in any other sphere."


Is physical presence required?

From the article:

the court clarified that the law requires that any place of public accommodation is required to ensure that it does not discriminate when it uses the internet as a means to enhance the services it offers at a physical location.

If I am reading this correctly, the precedent does not apply to Amazon because Amazon does not of a place of public accommodation. Is that correct?

It will be interesting to compare the legal and settlement costs to the cost of updating the site to be compliant.

Based on the recent trouble

Based on the recent trouble in the gaming industry, I wonder if this means any other site hosted outside the US can also be taken to court under this same precedent? Or would they have to be shown to be targeting the US market specifically?

I think the international precedent was in 1999

...when Bruce Lindsay Maguire successfully beat SOCOG (Sydney Organising Committee Olympic Games) based on the website breaching the Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992 - which previously was thought to only apply to 'bricks & mortar".

Accordingly, the complaint is substantiated and it is proper for the Commission to make the following determination pursuant to s.103(1) of the DDA:

1. A declaration that the respondent has engaged in conduct that is unlawful under section 24 of the DDA (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/dda1992264/s24.html) in that it has provided for the use of the complainant a web site which because of his blindness is to a significant extent inaccessible......


Yes you're right Chris, that

Yes you're right Chris, that should be US legal precedent really. I'd still like to know if it has any bearing on sites hosted outside their juristiction though. It sounds like yet_another_way to take out your competition if there are further enforcements. Nothing much happened after that case in Australia.

I actually hope something

I actually hope something comes of this. I do believe web sites should be accessible to all. It'll get rid of flash sites, at least.

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