Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Legal Precedent Set for Web Accessibility

I found the following article on the American Foundation for the Blind’s web site.
I posted a comment on their blog about the particular subject. I’ll just post their article and my response to it.

FYI… I’m quite concerned about web accessibility. I’m also concerned about increasing accessibility to research materials. More and more resources are being offered electronically. That’s a great help to me and other visually impaired students.

So check out the article and my response below. Have a great day!

Earlier this week there was an important ruling in a lawsuit against Target to make its web site accessible to customers with vision loss. On Wednesday a federal district court judge ruled that bricks-and-mortar businesses, like Target, may be held accountable if their web sites are not accessible to people with disabilities. This is a significant ruling because it sends a message that companies need to take web accessibility seriously.

But the reality is companies like Target should already be concerned about web accessibility, and not just because it's the right thing to do. As the world has gone digital, so has the ADA. Businesses and major online retailers need to remember to build electronic "ramps" for their sites so that people with disabilities can access them with ease. And, from the standpoint of the proverbial bottom line, the online business community would be silly not to. In a time when baby boomers are aging, and the vision loss numbers are expected to multiply, more and more consumers will need web sites to be accessible.

The Target lawsuit has significantly raised public awareness about the need to make the web accessible to people with vision loss. But my biggest concern is that the judge's ruling could undermine the ADA's coverage of many commercial web sites because the decision is restricted to bricks-and-mortar companies. In other words, following the judge's reasoning, web sites would only need to be accessible when the companies who maintain them also maintain physical stores. This means online retailers like,,
etc., are not affected by Wednesday's ruling. If left unchallenged, this ruling could thwart the clear meaning and intent of the ADA. The US Department of
Justice and the presidentially appointed National Council on Disability have said repeatedly that the ADA applies to accessibility of commercial web sites.
In a time when so many major companies are web based, we need to ensure all commercial web sites take accessibility seriously.

There are currently 2 comments

Re: Legal Precedent Set for Web Accessibility
Posted by
Angie Braden
on 9/13/2006 4:07:41 PM

I was in awe when I read this particular entry. I recently was approved for a Target card. When I visited their web site to browse their selections, I was
quite disappointed that their site had minimal/limitted accessibility for someone using screen reading software.

Completely unaware of this legal judgement, I wrote Target and complained about their site, insisting that they consider their blind customers. I also mentioned
the Babyboomers in my letter to their on line support team.

I am quite interested in issues such as this. I've made up my mind to use the power of the internet and e-mailto issue complaints and suggestions to those
who I feel need to consider and improve accessibility. What more can I do?

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