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Target Lawsuit Ends with $6 million Settlement
Target to make Web site accessible to blind in $6 million settlement
encyclo




msg:3732921
 1:32 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Article [sfgate.com]:
The Target retail chain will make its Web site accessible to the blind and pay $6 million to visually impaired Californians who have tried unsuccessfully to use the site, under a settlement announced Wednesday.

The company must now equip its Web site, www.target.com, with an embedded code that can be read by software to provide a vocal description of the page, and links that allow a blind person to navigate the screen with a keyboard instead of a mouse.

Analysis by WebAIM [webaim.org]:
# Target makes no admission or concession that its website is or ever was inaccessible.
# Target admits no violations of the ADA or any other law.
# The website will be brought into compliance with the Target Online Assistive Technology Guidelines.
# Target will pay NFB $90,000 for the certification and first year of monitoring and then $40,000 per year thereafter.
# Target’s web developers will receive at least one day of accessibility training, to be provided by NFB at a cost of up to $15,000 per session.
# Target will respond to accessibility complaints from web site users.
# Target will pay damages of $6,000,000 to the class action claimants, or at most $7000 per claimant, and will pay $20,000 to the California Center for the Blind on behalf of the primary claimant, Bruce Sexton, Jr.

Final settlement details here:
[nfbtargetlawsuit.com...]

Previous threads:

  • Judge Certifies Class Action Lawsuit For Website Inaccessible To The Blind [webmasterworld.com]
  • Blind Student Sues Site Owner Claiming Civil-Rights Violations Over Alt Text [webmasterworld.com]
  • Federal Judge Sustains Discrimination Claims Against Target.com website [webmasterworld.com]
  • Group Sues to Make Online Retailers Answer to the Blind [webmasterworld.com]
  •  

    buckworks




    msg:3733660
     4:53 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    A Website is a visual medium and unfortunately a blind person will never be able to fully integrate with it any more than they can fully appreciate a painting.

    A website has visual aspects but it is not ONLY a visual medium.

    Obviously a blind person will experience a site differently than a sighted person would, but on a well-designed site they can tell what the pages are about, understand the content, navigate anywhere that sounds interesting, and yes, spend their money.

    Food for thought: Search engine spiders are blind users. The labels and layouts that help a site make good sense to a blind person will also help it come across better to the search engines.

    Better accessibility = better SEO.

    It's instant good karma!

    Webwork




    msg:3733666
     5:04 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Search engine spiders are blind users.

    If that little smart bomb doesn't penetrate and explode I'm afraid the bunker is just too thick. :p

    Demaestro




    msg:3733708
     5:52 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    In itself it sounds kind of stupid, and I thought it was until I saw that the guy who started this went to Target customer service first with the issue. The end result was them telling him they weren't going to do anything about it... and that to me is the only thing they did wrong. Not try to fix it when it was called to their attention. Even if they fixed the site just for 1 person to use it that would make sense... telling him no was a mistake that cost them $6 million plus time and legal.

    Edge




    msg:3733745
     6:27 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    How strange that anyone should rant or rail against an accommodation as simple as adding alt-image tags to an images as a reasonable accommodation to the blind or visually impaired.

    How about a script triggered web site voice message telling the blind person to call an 800 number (the number is 1.800.591.3869, btw) and have a live or automated system help them locate and process their product search and purchase? Who says that a company web site is the only acceptable mechanism to assist the handicapped?

    I’ll bet a bunch of lawyer’s are getting rich off this one.

    I can't wait for the class-action lawsuit defending old-bald guys from the inequalities of society. I'm in!

    Small Website Guy




    msg:3733768
     6:58 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    It's hard enough getting a website to work properly in both IE and Firefox. Anyone who agreed with this ruling must not be a webmaster. How would you feel if you were sued for something stupid like this? I bet your website isn't fully compliant unless you've thoroughly tested it in web browsers for the blind.

    rise2it




    msg:3733774
     7:03 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    "How strange that anyone should rant or rail against an accommodation as simple as adding alt-image tags to an images as a reasonable accommodation to the blind or visually impaired."

    That poor person in customer service wasn't a web designer. If we'd been in that person's shoes 8 or 10 years ago, we probably wouldn't have had a solution, either.

    The 'common sense' answer for about 99% of people is the one that they gave...however, we don't know their attitude, and we don't know HIS attitude, either.

    ======

    I once pulled into a handicap space at a hotel because I was TOLD to do so (temporarily) by the staff to unload - in fact, they had given me one of the handicap rooms. (I'd 'thrown my back out' earlier in the day.)

    There were parking places on either side of me. In fact, there were probably 10 guests total at this hotel at the time.

    I'm getting ready to come back out to move the vehicle, and my car alarm goes off - when I open the door, a deaf couple is standing beside my car, and they guy is yelling at me and calling me names (his speech wasn't real clear, but he knew all the nice words) because I was in a 'spot' without a tag.

    Did he kick my car...probably. Did I 'tear him a new one'...no.

    Did I want to? ....no answer

    Demaestro




    msg:3733811
     7:43 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Small Website Guy... I had the same feeling but the guy tried to work with Target and they snubbed him.

    Are you telling me that if a blink person called you and said

    "I am trying to use your site but it doesn't work with my screen reader, can you make an attempt to fix it"

    Would you say no? That is what target did and all they had to do was a little research, testing, and none of this would happened.

    If anything you should be miffed at Target, if they weren't so rude to this guy forcing him to take it to the next level none of us would even be talking about "accessibility" issues in websites.

    wheel




    msg:3733832
     8:21 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    >>> if they weren't so rude to this guy forcing him to take it to the next level none of us would even be talking about "accessibility" issues in websites.

    Nobody forced the guy to take it to the next level. And unless you're my mother, shopping at target isn't a life or death necessity.

    Nor is being treated rudely a reason for a lawsuit or a $6million dollar settlement. Being treated rudely is an excuse for taking your business elsewhere. None of us want a world where rude treatement is an excuse for 6 million dollar settlements, which is what you're implying :).

    Bewenched




    msg:3733884
     9:29 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Here's a thought. Why cant they just pick up the phone call the toll free number and someone can assist them with finding the items they want and describe the items to them. Our customer service people do it all the time and our customers are sighted.

    This will open up a huge can of worms for all sorts of technology, lets say a deaf person wants to use a payphone and they dont have their TTY keyboard, can they sue the phone company because they dont put tty keyboards on every phone booth in america?

    This type of settlement is going to make businesses block certain browsers for fear of litigation.

    Small Website Guy




    msg:3733911
     10:11 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Are you telling me that if a blink person called you and said

    "I am trying to use your site but it doesn't work with my screen reader, can you make an attempt to fix it"

    Would you say no?

    If I didn't have to worry about the legal consequences, I'd say "no, unless you're going to pay me $100/hour for the time involved."

    buckworks




    msg:3733923
     10:33 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Small Website Guy, you have commented in other threads about tweaks you've tried in hopes of increasing your search engine traffic.

    But here you are ...

    I'd say "no, unless you're going to pay me $100/hour for the time involved."

    ... turning a blind eye to some of the most effective and most legitimate SEO tweaks available.

    That doesn't make much sense to me.

    incrediBILL




    msg:3733948
     10:54 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    turning a blind eye

    Oh boo hiss.

    Besides, this is just the beginning because in the EU the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) pretty much makes compliance the law if I'm not mistaken.

    If that happens in the US not only will the lawsuits escalate, but you'll probably find yourself facing legals ramifications as well.

    farmboy




    msg:3734021
     1:16 am on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    It's not a ruling, it's a settlement. It will not open any doors.

    Settlements open doors.

    Now everyone knows Target is willing to spend at least $6 million fighting a similar lawsuit but if you can push them hard, they will bail out and cry uncle beyond that.

    Lawyers who specialize in this sort of case just had a nice meal and sense more blood in the water.

    FarmBoy

    Small Website Guy




    msg:3734073
     3:09 am on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    turning a blind eye to some of the most effective and most legitimate SEO tweaks available

    You mean I can stick some one pixel transparent images on my page, and give them some juicy keyword-laden alt text? How does that help blind people?

    buckworks




    msg:3734085
     3:45 am on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    That is not at all what it's about.

    Don't commit the logical fallacy of making an uninformed statement that is totally off the mark then disparaging it.

    pageoneresults




    msg:3734088
     4:15 am on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    I'd have to ask if those commenting were part of the original topics and the initial lawsuit? It appears that many were not. It does go a bit deeper than all the mumbo jumbo being thrown about right now. I followed that original topic closely. I spent hours on the Target website peeling apart the dynamic layers to determine exactly where the issues were, and there were quite a few. The website missed the mark on the most basic of accessbility and usability enhancements.

    So, how about we go back to the original stuff, before the case went to court and track the history of what happened here. Target had their chance to spend a few hours performing very simple updates to address a concern raised by those with disabilities accessing the website. Someone at Target decided that they were not going to honor those requests and it escalated from there. They deserved what they got in the end. They could have easily avoided the brand damage and expense by not being so pig headed about their technical oversights. I mean, with images turned off, you could not checkout. That was just one of the challenges.

    It's not freakin hard to make a website pass the basics in accessibility. The people who continue to fight these types of enhancements for the sake of their users are the same people that will be groveling a year or two from now wishing they would have at least added appropriate alt attributes and/or title attributes to assist the disabled user and also the bots. Remember, the bots are disabled too. They have every disability known to mankind. They are also ADD.

    Now, since this is over with, I'd like to know who the person was at Target that decided not to take those initial complaints from users with disabilities seriously? What were you thinking? Was it an ego thing? Did your CTO tell you that it was impossible to do? Or, that it wasn't worth the time and effort to add those pesky little alt attributes? You know, those things that 80% of websites FAIL for not having? It's a really basic element and looks something like this...

    alt="Checkout Button"

    Wow! What a concept. If a user has their images turned off, which is the case with many that have disabilities on the Internet, those two words above would have probably saved you $6,000,000 and all the other direct and indirect expenses that have, that are, and that will be incurred.

    You mean I can stick some one pixel transparent images on my page, and give them some juicy keyword-laden alt text? How does that help blind people?

    Get real. This was a serious topic back in the day. And still is for many of us. ;)

    If I didn't have to worry about the legal consequences, I'd say "no, unless you're going to pay me $100/hour for the time involved."

    Dude, $100 per hour? You are underselling your services. Terribly!

    I know, you're going to tell me to look at your username, I get "IT". :)

    buckworks




    msg:3734094
     4:56 am on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Accessibility is not rocket science. Put accurate, informative labels on things that aren't textual content; use meaningful headings, and order your source code so a listener can follow the meaning when an audible browser reader is reading the content out loud. An accessible web page will have a surprising amount in common with a radio script. Finally, learn some of the short cut commands that you can provide to help users make better use of their time on your site.

    It's easy to find accessibility checking tools that can help, although there's no substitute for an intelligent human giving thought to how things will flow when heard.

    Note that absolutely none of this restricts your ability to make your pages look any way you want.

    Seb7




    msg:3734219
     9:58 am on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Wow, each claimant user gets $3,500 if they was unable to read the website - doesn’t quite sit right with me either.

    If a website was unreadable using a MacOS; wouldn’t that mean the website would still fails in giving equal access to its business?

    And apparently the law only applies to physical barriers not software ones.

    Essex_boy




    msg:3734234
     11:37 am on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Almost smacks of extortion. - Not almost - Is extortion

    rogerd




    msg:3734251
     12:14 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    >>law only applies to physical barriers not software ones

    In the US, at least, the disabled are afforded certain protections under the law. Technology users of any stripe are not.

    Similarly, for employment and other purposes, some groups are protected - one can't discriminate based on race or gender for example - but others aren't. Even if I could prove that I wasn't hired for a position because I have a big nose or funny ears, I'm not part of a protected class and would have no case.

    swa66




    msg:3734262
     12:33 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Silly.

    Maybe they can sue publishers of books/magazines/...: I'm pretty sure those are inaccessible to those who cannot see (well).

    wheel




    msg:3734283
     12:56 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    >>> one can't discriminate based on race or gender for example

    Sure you can. Happens every day. Try getting a job as an attendant in the change room of an all women's gym.

    Or try buying life insurance. Women get cheaper rates.

    buckworks




    msg:3734326
     1:30 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    each claimant user gets $3,500 if they was unable to read the website

    That's a misleading statement.

    The problem was not that they were "unable to read", the problem was that information they needed was totally missing.

    encyclo




    msg:3734339
     2:02 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Maybe they can sue publishers of books/magazines/...: I'm pretty sure those are inaccessible to those who cannot see (well).

    A rather ridiculous analogy, as a book or magazine is naturally inaccessible to the blind, where a website (HTML) is accessible by default - in other words, the medium is accessible unless you carelessly diminish or reduce accessibilty via poor design or programming.

    buckworks




    msg:3734351
     2:15 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Here's a better way to compare an inaccessible website to a book:

    Imagine you gave a blind person a book, and he had someone ready to read it to him, but some of the content had been blanked out so the person reading it couldn't tell what was there.

    Receptional




    msg:3734361
     2:24 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Maybe it's time to consider blocking the USA from accessing my websites?

    Europe already has accessibility laws for websites in place.

    pageoneresults




    msg:3734370
     2:34 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    But to honestly be able to use a website properly without your eyes would need way way more than AltTags.

    Not really. It requires that you utilize the proper elements and attributes that have been available to you since the dawn of the Internet.

    Accessibility is the virtual handicapped parking space. I don't agree with it for commercial websites. Every business should have the freedom to open their business to as many (or few) people as they see fit.

    You don't agree with it for commercial websites? That is exactly who this is for! Non-commercial websites benefit too.

    Search engine spiders are blind users. If that little smart bomb doesn't penetrate and explode I'm afraid the bunker is just too thick.

    They are not only blind, they are deaf and dumb. They need "assistive technologies" to help them along their way. That is where many have missed the boat and are wondering why their sites are not performing as they should be. And no, I'm not saying that the addition of alt attributes is the magic bullet. It is one of the bullets that goes into the chamber.

    It's hard enough getting a website to work properly in both IE and Firefox.

    No its not! That comment is so pre 2k! ;)

    Anyone who agreed with this ruling must not be a webmaster.

    Anyone who disagrees must not be a "professional" webmaster, how's that? I agree with the ruling 100%. I was there when that first complaint was ignored by Target. I saw what happened from that point forward. I was glued to the WebmasterWorld topic for days on end. I took various pages from the Target website and deconstructed them byte for byte. They could have easily avoided all of this. What I think it came down to was a hard headed CTO not unlike some of you participating here, who just decided that it wasn't worth their time to accommodate a growing number of users. I believe they refer to us as Baby Boomers and we are one of the largest consumer groups out there. Our eyes and other bodily functions may not be what they once used to be. And, we purchase quite a bit online!

    How would you feel if you were sued for something stupid like this?

    Now that I am a "retired" mod here at WebmasterWorld, I can let you know exactly how I feel. It ain't gonna happen! Why? Because I realized many years ago that there are guidelines in place for the construction of documents. If you follow those guidelines, everybody wins and I do mean everybody, there are no losers!

    Sounds like you have some cleaning up to do huh? Apparently you've been ignoring all the little tidbits of information that are shared here amongst WebmasterWorld members, you know, the Professional Webmasters.

    I bet your website isn't fully compliant unless you've thoroughly tested it in web browsers for the blind.

    I'll bet you it is! And, I'll bet you that 99.5% of the other sites under my control are also fully compliant and pass WAI-A validation.

    That poor person in customer service wasn't a web designer. If we'd been in that person's shoes 8 or 10 years ago, we probably wouldn't have had a solution, either.

    Oh come on! The solutions for all of this have been in writing at the W3 for years. There is nothing new being discussed here, nothing at all. The elements and attributes that Target failed to address are those that have been part of the standards since they were established. How about becoming a bit more educated on this subject before commenting any further? ;)

    This type of settlement is going to make businesses block certain browsers for fear of litigation.

    Cool! Hopefully they are competitors of my clients. We'll be ready for the new business!

    If a website was unreadable using a MacOS; wouldn’t that mean the website would still fails in giving equal access to its business?

    Yes. But, you are talking Mac OS and I'm sure there are a few lawyers who could take that OS and find plenty of things wrong with it to counter any Accessibility and Usability claims. Many websites don't work properly on Mac OS, you can blame Steve Jobs for that. Maybe he'll be next on the list? I'd like to see that OS get a kick in the arse. I'm a Mac user too!

    driller41




    msg:3734381
     2:56 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    The internet is a visual medium plain and simple, a blind person cannot experience it fully anymore than they can appreciate an oil painting.

    No amount of Alt tags - which I am all in favour of btw, will change that fact.

    buckworks




    msg:3734387
     3:01 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    The internet is a visual medium plain and simple,

    That is flat wrong.

    The internet is much, much more than just a visual medium.

    If you limit yourself to thinking about it only in visual terms you will be missing a lot of its power.

    zuko105




    msg:3734397
     3:14 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    If that little smart bomb doesn't penetrate and explode I'm afraid the bunker is just too thick. :p

    Let's not give away the trade secrets too quick now.

    pageoneresults




    msg:3734398
     3:14 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

    If you limit yourself to thinking about it only in visual terms you will be missing a lot of its power.

    Not to mention all that other trivial stuff that may assist in helping websites perform better from a search perspective.

    But, we know the mantra. If you can't see it, so what.

    And, no one has proven that those elements or attributes have any value. < Ya sure. > It just cost Target $6,000,000 and some change. I'd say there was some value there.

    Have you learned anything from this lawsuit and others that are similar?

    This 65 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 65 ( 1 [2] 3 > >
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