Web site accessibility lawsuit filed against Target allowed to proceed

Posted by joy

From SFGate.com

Run by the nationwide Target stores chain, www.target.com is covered by federal and state laws that entitle people with disabilities to have equal access to business and government services, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled Wednesday in refusing to throw out a suit against the company. She rejected Target’s argument that the discrimination laws prohibit only physical barriers to a company’s stores or products.

“The purpose of the statute is broader than mere physical access” and includes the removal of all barriers to “a disabled person’s ‘full enjoyment’ of services or goods,” Patel said, quoting from the Americans With Disabilities Act.

She did not decide whether Target’s Web site is accessible to the blind, and denied an injunction that would have required the retailer to make immediate changes.

I’ve blogged about this lawsuit earlier, and noted then that part of the accessiblity problems were a lack of image alt tags and poorly implemented image maps. Let me just note here that I’ve seen poor implementation of image alt tags in some popular content management systems.

But really, what does this lawsuit mean to your friendly Web designer? Well, legally, we don’t know. There are no standards in the Americans with Disabilities Act that even address Web sites or Web site design. And while Section 508 has already been enacted, it’s standards only legally apply to US Federal Agencies. Looking to others, here are some guidelines for UK Government Web sites.

Honestly, I wonder what standard of Web accessibility will come from this lawsuit. This is key.

You may want to check if your Web site is Section 508 compliant and wait and see where this lawsuit will go. The W3C has a nifty list of Web Accessibility Tools including Section 508 checkers to make this easier.

[tags]Web, Web design, Web accessibility, Section 508 [/tags]

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