Wednesday, October 3

Possible change in Target lawsuit and web accessibility

Greetings. The below article addresses the lawsuit that the National Federation of the Blind has brought against Target for its website being inaccessible to the blind and screen reading software. After the article is a link to another article on the topic. Enjoy, and as always, please excuse any formatting errors.

Lawsuit seeks to improve website access by the blind
A judge's ruling in a suit against Target could mean that businesses and government
agencies would have to make their sites compatible with screen-reading software.
By Molly Selvin, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
1:52 PM PDT, October 3, 2007

A ruling by a judge in San Francisco could mean that businesses and government agencies
would have to make their websites accessible to the blind, something disability rights
advocates say is vital as the routine transactions of everyday life take place more
and more on the Internet.
U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel granted class-action status Tuesday to a lawsuit
alleging that Target Corp. is in violation of California and federal laws because
its website doesn't work with screen-reading software, essentially making the site
unusable for blind people.
To comply, Target would have to tag product images on its site with word descriptions,
allowing the software to "read" those images aloud.
An earlier version of this article identified John Pare as an executive of the National
Foundation of the Blind. The organization is the National Federation of the Blind.
Many retailers, including Wal-Mart Inc. and, have upgraded their websites
or are in the process of doing so, said John Pare, executive director for strategic
initiatives for the National Federation of the Blind. Most companies have done so
voluntarily, he said, in response to concerns raised by the 50,000-member foundation.
The lawsuit contends that some 10,000 people in California alone use reading software
to access the Internet.
Target, in a statement, said its online business had made "significant enhancements
to improve the experience of our guests who use assistive technologies." The company,
based in Minneapolis, said it would request an immediate review of the judge's ruling.
The ability to access websites is particularly important to the visually impaired,
whose mobility is limited because they can't drive, said Eve Hill, executive director
of the Disability Rights Legal Center at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
Judges have applied California's disability accommodations law more broadly than
the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, Hill said; the federal law focuses on
access to physical locations such as stores or banks.

Second article: Lawsuit over web site accessibility for the blind becomes class action.

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