Targeting Accessibility

A new court ruling you should be aware of that sets a precedent for web site accessibility:

The court held: “the ‘ordinary meaning’ of the ADA’s prohibition against discrimination in the enjoyment of goods, services, facilities or privileges, is that whatever goods or services the place provides, it cannot discriminate on the basis of disability in providing enjoyment of those goods and services.” The court thus rejected Target’s argument that only its physical store locations were covered by the civil rights laws, ruling instead that all services provided by Target, including its Web site, must be accessible to persons with disabilities.

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 irony here is that there is no good technical reason for not having a highly accessible web site these days. The limitations of Target’s site mentioned above are all old school design techniques that are quite simply out of date and unnecessary. Why they didn’t just update their site design instead of fighting a costly court battle is beyond me.

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