Should Websites Have to Be Accessible to the Blind? Lawsuit Against Target Says Yes
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Do you think that a website has an obligation to make itself accessible to the blind? According to the National Federation for the Blind, yes, and that’s just what they’re claiming in a lawsuit against Target and their Target.com website.

A judge this week ruled that a lawsuit brought by the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) against Target for failing to make their website at Target.com accessible to the blind can move forward. The lawsuit claims that Target.com is inaccessible to blind people, and thus violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


Said Marc Maurer, president of the NFB, “This ruling is a great victory for blind people throughout the country. We are pleased that the court recognized that the blind are entitled to equal access to retail Web sites.”

Another NFB spokeperson, John Pare, indicated that it was likely that the NFB would now file additional lawsuits against other online sites.

A lawyer with Disability Rights Advocates out of Berkeley, who are co-plaintiffs in the case along with the NFB, opined that “This is groundbreaking. No court has yet ruled directly that the ADA applies to Web sites, which [this judge] has clearly done in this opinion.”

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Said the judge in her opinion allowing the case to move forward, “The Web site is a means to gain access to the store and it is ironic that Target, through its merchandising efforts on the one hand, seeks to reach greater numbers of customers and enlarge its consumer-base, while on the other hand it seeks to escape the requirements of the ADA. A broader application of the ADA to the Web site may be appropriate if upon further discovery it is disclosed that the store and Web site are part of an integrated effort.”

This ruling of course raises far more questions than just what will happen to Target and their Target.com.

What does this mean for websites across the United States?

 

Clearly it means that if the lawsuit is successful, if you have a store, and a website for the store, you are going to have to make the website accessible to the blind.

But what does it mean to have a website be “accessible to the blind”? How do you make a website accessible to the blind? And should websites, which are uniquely and primarily visual by definition, have to be accessible to the blind?

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5 thoughts on “Should Websites Have to Be Accessible to the Blind? Lawsuit Against Target Says Yes
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  1. I also have a website, but it’s a personal project (which, by the way, I was needed to leave it alone for a while) but I cannot understand what requirements (in matter of design) are for effectively make my portal an accessible to the visually impaired people.
    I have, as well, a disability but it’s a locomotory one. So, I empathize strongly with the visually impaired comunity.
    Can anyone help me in these matters? It’s all about a social – cultural (non-proffit, for now!) project called “Erigone – Galladriela”.

    I am from Romania, Bucharest

    Thank you!

  2. Doesn’t this just leave the door open for the NFB to seek out all the US soil based online organizations to force them to conform with ADA guidlines? Are the suing for money? That seems kind of selfish. I don’t understand what they are trying to accomplish really…they have the ADA they cannot realistically make the world wide web conform to the United States laws.

  3. This is just nuts. Not everybody gets to do everything. Sure, it’s tragic that they have a disability or have “special needs”, but why must the world compensate for everyone?

    Sorry, folks, but the needs of the many does indeed outweigh the needs of the few. Everybody’s got problems – learn how to deal with yours.

    And by the way, I myself am handicapped.

  4. I see no reason to excuse any web site from ADA requirements. My wife works as a web developer for SSA and makes sure that each site complies with ADA requirements. Both the hearing impaired and blind are able to use her web sites. And from what she tells me, it is not that difficult to comply.

  5. In general, making your website accessible isn’t that diffacult. If accessibility is considered during the design faze, instead of thought of later, it is even easier. I think that website owners should think about accessibility in terms of everyone, not just the traditional “blind” people; I am blind, and work in IT. I cannot even begin to express the frustration I feel with inaccessible websites and software products when it takes developers that design for accessibility in their products very little time to make things to work for those of us that don’t access the computer using the “standard” way.

    Why targert wants to fight making their website friendly for blind people to buy things off of it confuses me to no end. Especially given that there are few changes they would have to make- I tested it and for the most part it works…

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