Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Target Falls Short

Lawsuit Filed for Lack of Accessibilty


One would expect, or are we just hoping, that the larger the company, the more capable they are of affording to have their sites made accessible. The idea to this, of course, is that those with the financial power of a mega-chain should be able to hire people experienced in web standards and knowledgeable enough. On the other hand - they could just contract one of the companies or private consultants that specialize in making websites accessible. Obviously, this was not the case with Target.

Apparently, some 10 months ago, original complaints were made to Target about the lack of accessibilty of their website. It was never fixed. Ten months is far beyond the amount of time needed to fix the problems cited. Those problems noted were fairly straightforward:

  1. Pages were lacking the requisite alt text.
  2. Pages used image maps (without alt text) for navigation, but there was no function on the page to do the same as the images in a text version alternative.
  3. The pages required the visual input use of a mouse - inherently pushing keyboard-only users away.


Simple changes. Any web developer worth their salt could manage those changes quickly. Apparently Target either lacks those kinds of web developers, lacks motivation to please their customers, or blatantly has disregard for the 25% of all web users who are disabled. None of those are exactly what I would consider good options.

In any event, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has filed a suit against the U.S. based (California) Target company. They are attempting to have it done as a class-action suit. (Full document available here in PDF.) Now, apparently just in the last few days (after the suit was filed) there have been some changes made to the website to help improve some of the accessibility.

I find it truly pitiful that a fear of losing money in a lawsuit has to be the motivator for a change so simple to do. In this time, when web standards are absolutely necessary for any business (and eventually, we can hope, across all websites), I find it very disappointing that a major company would go to such lengths to alienate customers. Obviously they are concerned about their bottom line -- are their analysts so entirely behind as to not realize the percentage of people who would be lost as potential customers due to this? It would seem not.

Again, another reason to learn standards. I hope that this case goes through successfully for the NFB, and that Target is penalized for its blatant disregard to its customers, and its lack of consideration toward those with a physical handicap. Hopefully, this case will set a new 'standard' (a legal one this time), that might make people sit up and pay attention to what is going on in the world of the web.

~Nicole

Cross-posted to take your comments on Beyond Caffeine.