Per the WSJ Law Blog (Feb. 7): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), represented by Berkeley’s Disability Rights Advocates as well as two law firms, has sued discounter Target, alleging that it violates California disabled-rights law because its website is not operable by blind computer users. “The suit charges that the site lacks, for instance, compliant alt-text, an invisible code embedded beneath graphics that allows blind users to decipher images. The suit also contends that because the Web site requires the use of a mouse to complete a transaction, blind customers are unable to make purchases on their own.” As longterm readers of this site know, demands for website accessibility under the ADA and similar laws have been simmering for years; in 2002 a federal court turned down such a claim with respect to Southwest Airlines’ website, and two years ago (Jan. 8, 2004) a NFB activist said disability advocates were biding their time, waiting for the right case to reopen the issue. It sounds as if the Target lawsuit may be that case. (& welcome readers of John Dvorak, who calls us “the always entertaining Overlawyered.com”).
More: at WebStandards.org, one enthusiast for the lawsuit says that it also calls into question the practices of Amazon.com, whose shopping engine, according to this commentator, powers the Target site. As I discovered when I started writing on this subject six years ago, many advocates of “web accessibility” seem quite surprised to learn that anyone actually disagrees with them on the merits of the matter, as opposed to just not being well enough informed about it. And: coverage in Law.com’s Recorder (Matthew Hirsch, “Suit Alleges Target Denies Blind Access to Online Shopping”, Feb. 14).