Recently a federal judge in California ruled that she would allow a class action suit against Target (a large U.S retailer) on claims that the website was not accessible to blind customers. The retailer is accused of violating the California Unruh Civil
Rights Act, the California Disabled Persons Act and the Americans
with Disabilities Act
The lawsuit was jointly filed earlier this year by the American National Federation for the Blind , a non-profit group based in Baltimore and one of
its members, Bruce "BJ" Sexton, a student at Berkeley, University
I am not interested in expounding on the merits of the various arguments in the case…I am happy to leave that to the lawyers. What I am trying to understand is why Target, seemingly, did not make more of an effort to try and at least make some improvements and include accessibility requirements as they rolled out new pages or products on their website as pages built with accessibility in mind are much easier to maintain. Does their management, or their developers, not understand accessibility requirements and how to implement them? Now that the lawsuit has been filed, Target has made some changes, but I am baffled that it took a lawsuit to get them to pay attention and progress. Target was apparently warned at least a couple of times that there were issues before the lawsuit was filed.
There are quite a few articles and blogs on the subject out there, if you are interested in getting more details on this specific lawsuit I recommend you review them and come to your own conclusions. I have included some related links at the end of the blog to get you started.
Working for an agency, I feel that it is our responsibility to inform and educate our clients about accessibility and the benefits of improving the accessibility and usability of their websites. Of course, I can’t make them take the necessary steps, but I can at least try and let them know their options and how we can help.
The simple fact, beyond being the moral/ethical position to take, is that it makes business sense to have an accessible website. Not just for the blind or those with motor skills issues, but for everyone.
Business and website owners should be aware of the potential legal issues , understand the
business/financial benefits (e.g. easier/less expensive website maintenance and a substantially increased customer-base)
and make sure that any person or agency they work with knows how to plan, build and test accessible websites.