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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]
  •  

    PowerUp




    msg:3732935
     2:10 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Who is next on the list?

    smallcompany




    msg:3732964
     3:06 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Hmm... while all this may sound silly at the first place, as I read in some of the previous related threads, in the future, it may be required to have a license if you want to sell something online (digitalghost). If we think about when the first store ever opened, calculating in how fast we live today (and change laws), we should definitely expect many regulations to come our (online) way. I wonder how affiliate world will be regulated in all this. We already have FSA in UK going after financial online offers, not touching affiliates yet, but who knows.

    Big job and big business (money) is to regulate the web. We’ll pay for it, to its last cent. Therefore, start thinking about your (early) retirement and when will be the best moment to sell your business. ;)

    This case probably means that every big company doing business online should be freaked out and ensure they’re compliant. Sounds like an increased budget for IT. Also, sounds like SOX (minimized).

    And yes, to many, it does not sound right that they have to spend so and so money and time in order to accommodate a small percentage of the total number of people “around”.
    At the same time, if I ever get questioned by impaired person why he/she could not access my store (street or online), my focus would be on making that happen (access) as I would feel very bad. People should never be considered as numbers.
    And if we are about numbers, the news (and fact) how Mr. Owner was thoughtful about all this and made the right change (accommodating impaired ) could actually influence the numbers because of good marketing effect.

    People first, otherwise we’re all toasted (like we already are, by our politicians and their backgrounders).

    skipfactor




    msg:3732991
     3:19 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    >>Who is next on the list?

    I believe Target's the #2 discount retailer in the US. Let's see...is wal-mart compliant? .gov sites? Field day.

    incrediBILL




    msg:3733021
     3:49 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Almost smacks of extortion.

    carguy84




    msg:3733089
     4:44 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Hmmm, I'm not sure i agree with this ruling, it just doesn't sit well with me. Each site should work for everyone, on some level, I suppose, but what right does anyone have telling "me" how I can and cannot code? Is there actually a governing body and laws regarding this?

    In case anyone is interested, since I had to dig to find it, Accessibility Tips from w3:
    [w3.org...]

    Chip-

    amznVibe




    msg:3733107
     4:52 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Think of how amazing of a website they could have made for $6 million, hmm.

    I thought Target's website is powered by Amazon, so it's Amazon liable?

    Or was Target the handy B&M because they have a physical presence in California?

    vordmeister




    msg:3733189
     7:13 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Has anyone actually looked at the site using assistive technology? I tried it with Lynx text browser and was able to locate products and add them to my basket.

    It doesn't downgrade perfectly (it's a cluttered site) so it would be a bit annoying for visually impared users, but no more so than the rest of the pupulation. In my quick look I didn't spot anything that actually made it inaccessible.

    Have they sorted it out already or is this just lawyers and accessibility checkers making lots of money? Or is it all about a captcha image? (Didn't get that far).

    kbba04527




    msg:3733198
     7:53 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    This doesn't help the US's reputation to start a lawsuit regarding everything and anything!

    If people think they can make a buck they will.

    onepointone




    msg:3733199
     7:59 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    There's always going to be somebody who cant do 'something' unfortunately. And anybody being actively discriminated against should have legal recourse on the other side.

    driller41




    msg:3733208
     8:57 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    You wacky Americans, what will you think of to sue next.

    How about deaf people who can't use itunes

    maximillianos




    msg:3733256
     9:49 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Or how about sites where the font is too small to read. The punishment seems a bit ridiculous from a cost perspective.

    zeus




    msg:3733268
     10:13 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    wait, has the blind sued target be cause they could not read this site, if so thats just to much, you really understand why the european are afraid of investing in USA.

    tangor




    msg:3733305
     10:23 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    A further read on the ruling indicates a max of $7,000 per claimant. At present the number of claimants has not been fully established. $6M was set aside to accommodate class action claimants. If three actually apply for damages Target pays $21,000 plus $20,000 initially, and all the other training, certificates, et al already mentioned. If 857 claimants can be presented then the &6M is gone. If MORE than 857 claimants show up, they get LESS. If three million show up, they get two bucks apiece. :)

    At any rate, the fellow who started the whole thing can't recover damages greater than $7,000.

    Only the lawyers won.

    vincevincevince




    msg:3733319
     11:15 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    A case like this should never have been settled. I hope the state or federal government now follows up with proper criminal charges.

    farmboy




    msg:3733320
     11:15 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    I'm not sure i agree with this ruling...

    It's not a ruling, it's a settlement.

    Think of how amazing of a website they could have made for $6 million, hmm.

    On the other hand, think of the doors that have been opened for others claiming accessibility issues. Later on, Target may wish it had spent much more than $6 million and put a lot more effort into squashing this effort.

    FarmBoy

    vincevincevince




    msg:3733323
     11:17 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    On the other hand, think of the doors that have been opened for others claiming accessibility issues.

    It's not a ruling, it's a settlement. It will not open any doors. It should have been pushed all the way to a ruling.

    trillianjedi




    msg:3733340
     11:31 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Wow, that's mind-bending.

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

    carguy84




    msg:3733405
     12:53 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    A case like this should never have been settled. I hope the state or federal government now follows up with proper criminal charges.

    Criminal charges against the lawyers or Target?

    driller41




    msg:3733420
     1:07 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. Life sucks.

    maximillianos




    msg:3733426
     1:19 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. Life sucks.

    Very true. Much like you don't see folks with various handicaps driving cars. Does this mean car companies are now liable? Very strange settlement. Target must have done it just to avoid any negative PR. Basically throw some money at it and hope it goes away.

    encyclo




    msg:3733431
     1:25 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. Life sucks.

    A "bricks-and-mortar" store is a visual medium too, haven't you noticed all the signs with the prices on them? That doesn't mean that the company doesn't need to respect clear legislation regarding accessibility in their store. Why should the same not be true for a website by the same company? Why shouldn't a company be made responsible for failing to make a minimum of effort to make their website accessible to blind users?

    The company failed to add alternative text descriptions for product images, and preferred to go to court rather than take a responsible approach. The settlement is largely in their favour, in my opinion, as there is no admission of any violations.

    wheel




    msg:3733483
     2:15 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    >>>Why shouldn't a company be made responsible for failing to make a minimum of effort to make their website accessible to blind users?

    That's absolutely the rationale, that, and the legislation you mentioned. Little doubt that this was the right course.

    The naysayers are questioning the rationale behind having the government legislate how businesses treat their customers.

    There's a definitie line between general consumer rights and the rights of business to operate freely and independently. I'm much more on the side of 'government keep out' but still, these laws have allowed some folks greater access to things like business.

    Webwork




    msg:3733560
     3:28 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    It's really not that complex.

    Either it's lawful to treat the visually impaired, who number in the millions, as if they don't exist OR a society can agree to make it the law that reasonable accommodations be taken to address their needs. Given the aging post-war baby boom population I don't see the issue of visual impairment becoming a "smaller issue".

    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.

    Here's an idea: Let's unburden those who don't wish to go the extra (SEO friendly) step of adding alt-image text to photos, etc.

    Let's code browsers such that browsers won't render images that are not associated with a verbal description of the image!

    Problem solved!

    And a better Web too!

    poppyrich




    msg:3733572
     3:35 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    @incrediBill:
    Not so fast. Don't be so dismissive, please.
    I empathize with how you feel about "legal extortion" more than you can ever know.
    However, expecting a major retailer to design a site that's friendly to screen-readers like Jaws - provided it does not place an "undue burden" - is hardly outrageous.

    I'd like to offer this perspective:

    My eyesight has always been pretty good but a couple of months ago I noticed that the sight in my right eye had gotten kind of blurry.
    Blurry and distorted, too. I was seeing straight lines as wavy lines in the right hand portion of my right eye.
    At the optometrist's I could not even see the "top line" of the eye chart and magnification wasn't correcting anything.

    I was referred to a retinal specialist, and it turned out I've got a retinal inflamation accompanied by some bleeding in the retinal wall of my eye.
    After extensive diganostic tests showed me healthy (no brain tumors, at least!) - the doctor has absolutely no idea what brought it on.
    Here's the rub, though:
    Just a few years ago there was no treatment for this. It might have gone away on it's own but maybe not and I would be functionally blind in my right eye. Luckily there's the redundancy evolutionary biology has been kind to enough to provide me in my left eye, but it kind of got me thinking about what I would do if the left eye went also.
    And it would get you thinking, too.
    Further, the condition I've got is extremely similar to a condition called Macular Degeneration which is an extremely common age-related disease. For some reason, it hits caucasian (white) people almost exclusively.
    Think you won't have a severe visual disability to deal with in your life? It's not a good bet - visual problems increase with age, period.
    And I assume you're planning on sticking around.

    @farmboy
    Yes, it's a settlement but the offending techniques or lack of them (alt text seems to be a big part of the complaint) will no doubt have to be rectified.

    driller41




    msg:3733577
     3:43 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    I have no problem with AltTags, in fact that is an obvious requirement.

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

    And it is this burden that I am worried about.

    razoras




    msg:3733581
     3:52 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    I'm pretty shocked by how negative people are reacting. Complete with ridiculous "hurr, Americans are lawsuit happy" bunk, even.

    vincevincevince




    msg:3733582
     3:52 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

    True, it is difficult. We are only just starting to get there. However, rewind a few years and sites were much much more accessible.

    Remember this:

  • No flash (wasn't out yet)
  • Images were small low-res logos at best (9600 baud modems and PCs which would slow to a crawl with a big image)
  • Javascript was rarely used and poorly supported even then
  • 99% of pages were just HTML, bare markup. Easy, accessible.

    So, it was done in the past; it can be done now!

  • wheel




    msg:3733611
     4:15 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    >>>owever, expecting a major retailer to design a site that's friendly to screen-readers like Jaws - provided it does not place an "undue burden" - is hardly outrageous.

    Expecting fine. Requiring by law, that's what the naysayers have a problem with. Doesn't mean their wrong, just a difference in beliefs in where the community good crosses over the personal good.

    Of course it's not very bright for a major retailer to have a website that's not crossbrowser compatible. But personally I don't think that my 'expectations' as to what I should see on somebody's website should become 'law'. If I don't like their website or it doesn't fit my needs, I 'expect' I'll take my money elsewhere.

    hey, there's websites I can't access because I run firefox under linux. Neither my bank nor my insurance company last time I checked let me do anything on their sites. One of them actually refuses to let me download PDF's because I don't have Adobe installed - even though my pdf reader works just fine. So they refuse me access, seemingly without care or difficulty. I suppose I could take my business elsewhere if it was that big a deal to me.

    sgietz




    msg:3733657
     4:51 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

    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.

    If I was blind, I would take my business elsewhere, just as I would skip the business that didn't have handicapped parking if I was in a wheelchair.

    NUTS! :(

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