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Blind Student Sues Site Owner Claiming Civil-Rights Violations Over Alt Text
Suit charges retailer's Web site cannot be used by the sightless
walkman




msg:349289
 12:44 pm on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

"...Target's site lacks "alt-text," an invisible code embedded beneath a graphic on the Web site that a screen reader could use to provide a description of the image to a blind person, the suit said."

"...A blind person cannot make a purchase independently on target.com."

[sfgate.com...]

what if one puts the wrong alt text, and a blind person buys the wrong thing relying on it? Not trying to be funny, but it can happen.

 

pageoneresults




msg:349409
 6:14 pm on Feb 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

The "blind only" access material is used by only a tiny minority, why should the majority have to endure all that delay and bandwidth when a second page avoids it.

Can you describe the code bloat that comes from making a site accessible? I'm not too certain there is additional code bloat. If there is, it is because the elements being used are not being used correctly to begin with.

andrea99




msg:349410
 6:20 pm on Feb 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

If there is [code bloat], it is because the elements being used are not being used correctly to begin with.

You may waste your time crusading for rectitude or you can provide an easy solution that will work more often.

You are forgetting that a huge percentage of web designers are lazy and incompetent. Disapproval will not change them, giving them an easy solution will.

buckworks




msg:349411
 6:23 pm on Feb 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Basic accessibility IS an easy solution.

You seem to be thinking it's a lot more complicated than it really is.

pageoneresults




msg:349412
 6:26 pm on Feb 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

You may waste your time crusading for rectitude or you can provide an easy solution that will work more often.

But I have been providing solutions, references, examples and my own personal opinions based on years of implementing and testing all of the stuff being discussed. :)

[edited by: pageoneresults at 6:39 pm (utc) on Feb. 11, 2006]

andrea99




msg:349413
 6:37 pm on Feb 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

You seem to be thinking it's a lot more complicated than it really is.

If it were so easy, why do so few comply?

buckworks




msg:349414
 6:39 pm on Feb 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Because they simply haven't thought about it.

pageoneresults




msg:349415
 6:42 pm on Feb 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

If it were so easy, why do so few comply?

In the instance of Target, I'm going to guess it is a matter of function over form. The programmers control that site, not the marketing department.

Why do so few comply? If I go back and look at all the topics that we've had similar discussions, it comes down to one thing, lack of education. And, a close second, "I could care less about validation, accessibility, etc.".

andrea99




msg:349416
 6:44 pm on Feb 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

But I have been providing solutions, references, examples and my own personal opinions based on years of implementing and testing all of the stuff being discussed. :)

I apologize if I have seemed to have been belittling your efforts, that's not my intention. I simply think that a supplementary "blind only" site is an easier sell and cleaner solution than a retrofit.

andrea99




msg:349417
 6:47 pm on Feb 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

...it comes down to one thing, lack of education. And, a close second, "I could care less about validation, accessibility, etc.".

And this is beyond your control except on a one to one basis. If you embrace a solution that accomodates the ignorance, apathy, and laziness you will do more good for the disabled on a large scale.

bedlam




msg:349418
 1:17 am on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I simply think that a supplementary "blind only" site is an easier sell and cleaner solution than a retrofit.

When I read comments like this--if you're really sincere, or if I'm otherwise wrong about you, then I apologize in advance!--it really looks to me like you're trolling, or you're simply not experienced enough to realize that more than 90% of the work to build an accessible site is already done if the site is built properly in the first place.

The only situation where it even remotely begins to sound cost-effective to build a duplicate site for accessibility purposes is when the site is database driven and the pages use templates to display. But this is also the situation where it is easiest to fix the site's problems in the first place.

You are forgetting that a huge percentage of web designers are lazy and incompetent. Disapproval will not change them, giving them an easy solution will.

Actually, a few lawsuits like this one might weed out a lot of the so-called 'web designers' out there since the key to this issue is client education--and a client who knows he can get sued because he hired an unprofessional developer is a client who will do his homework befor he hires anyone... Providing some minimum level of accessibility is a basic part of doing business on the web, and if a few businesses and developers that aren't prepared to educate themselves in the most trivial basics of how the internet works disappear as a result of this, then I for one won't miss them.

-b

balam




msg:349419
 2:35 am on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

There is a troll among us...

andrea99




msg:349420
 2:51 am on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

...more than 90% of the work to build an accessible site is already done if the site is built properly in the first place.

But most are not built properly in the first place, which is my point. Those are the very sites least likely to want to pay for a retrofit. Sometimes quick and dirty is better than not at all.

Actually, a few lawsuits like this one might weed out a lot of the so-called 'web designers'...

Yes, it will. It will also drive some businesses out of ecommerce, and that is my concern. I am pro-growth and many more ebusinesses will thrive if every option is explored and used.

Again, your rectitude is admirable but appears possibly motivated--at least in part--by your desire to see regulation line your own pockets.

Don't get me wrong, I too would like to see every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed but things do not always work that way. I'm not endorsing sloppiness, I'm realistically recognizing that some businesses will simply always do things "on the cheap."

My own site happens to be accessible now. But I recoil from "web designers" licking their chops over the new business that this lawsuit will bring them.

andrea99




msg:349421
 2:55 am on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

There is a troll among us...

That is an outrageous attack. Calling me a troll because you don't like my point of view or have no answer to what I am saying is a lazy cop-out.

farmboy




msg:349422
 2:58 am on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm usually not THAT liberal, but in this special case I think the market will decide and sites where it makes sense will eventually make themselves accessible in any case

Just for information purposes, in regards to the U.S. you have the labels exactly backwards.

Liberals, in general, would tend to support the idea of government forcing a website to do this or that and conservatives and/or libertarians would tend to want the government to stay out of it and let the marketplace decide.

FarmBoy (always willing to help with international civics)

farmboy




msg:349423
 3:22 am on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

The cynic in me tells me this is going to be an exercise in futility, but I'm going to try anyway. I'd like to pose a question to those who think government/courts should force website operators to comply with whatever "standards" advocacy groups can get legislated.

I've read discussions about this lawsuit on a number of forums and it always seems to break down the same way.

On one side is a group that supports the lawsuit's basis. Within this group are various subgroups. On one extreme are those who say a website operator should have to do it but haven't really considered any of the intended or unintended consequences. On the other extreme are those who seem to like the idea of government force being used against the noncompliant so much you can almost see the drool dripping from their lips as they imagine Wally the Webmaster being handcuffed and removed from his home by police.

Also among those who support mandatory requirements are those outside the U.S. who would love to have their competitors in the U.S. hampered by as much regulation as possible.

The other side seems to consist of those who are just nasty people and make cruel jokes about the blind (a minority of this side) and those who (majority) don't like the idea of having to do something under the threat of force. This majority group includes those who would willingly make their sites compliant but don't like the force issue.

So at last I'll get to my question for those who support a mandatory requirement and my question concerns your basic underlying principles.

If you were President for a day and someone gave you a checklist of possible requirements for webmasters (of all size sites) and you had to go down that list checking each one as "Require" or "Don't Require" - on what basis would you make your decisions?

And please no broad abstract statements like, "I would require it if it would feed the children, help the poor and keep the dolphins safe" that are so broad that practically anything could fit within the parameters. You're the President and if someone supporting his family off his website doesn't do what you decide to require, he could face huge fines or worse - so how will you decide whether to require or not require each item on the list?

FarmBoy

farmboy




msg:349424
 3:34 am on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Concerning whether or not it's easy to comply with accessibility standards(?), there is currently an interesting perspective on Reason magazine's website. Since I can't provide a link here, just search there for the article by Walter Olson titled, "Access Excess." The author points out some of the ramifications of things that may at first seem to be easy-to-implement.

FarmBoy

andrea99




msg:349425
 3:54 am on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'd like to thank Farmboy for his thoughtful analysis and place myself among this category:

This majority group includes those who would willingly make their sites compliant but don't like the force issue.

My own site is fully accessible by audio but I accept or reject w3 validation issues on a case by case basis.

I reject virtually all attempts to regulate by force of law and feel that the market should decide what is acceptable.

I think individual webmasters should have the choice to decide whether to make their sites accessible.

The reality is that now only sites with deep pockets need to fear lawsuits but it won't be long before the sickos who seek out crosses to remove from city seals will be Googling for accessibilty infractions.

bedlam




msg:349426
 4:03 am on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

There is a troll among us...

That is an outrageous attack.

Relax. Even if it were outrageous, I think Balam was likely pointing at me...though I don't see why it should be troll-like to wish that the industry as a whole had higher standards for the product it sells to clients...

In any case, this is a pretty unimaginative thing to have said:

Again, your rectitude is admirable but appears possibly motivated--at least in part--by your desire to see regulation line your own pockets

...as it takes a very narrow-minded view about why it might be nice to see a few less 'basement shop' outfits building websites. In my opinion, clients who wind up with inaccessible websites or tools like Target's shopping cart are very often either a) being outrageously taken advantage of by developers delivering low-quality product or b) deliberately ignoring the whole accessibility issue.

More often, the evidence seems to point to the former than the latter.

But most are not built properly in the first place, which is my point. Those are the very sites least likely to want to pay for a retrofit. Sometimes quick and dirty is better than not at all.

I guess that I simply do not understand what you're proposing. I'd like more details--

What possible 'quick and dirty' fix could there be that would be cheaper than simply fixing the problem pages?

-b

Liane




msg:349427
 4:16 am on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

This thread is deteriorating to name calling, so I will back out ... trolls or no trolls ... who cares. It won't affect the outcome of this suit.

I think individual webmasters should have the choice to decide whether to make their sites accessible.

Yes indeed! And individuals for whom that choice poses a problem should have the right to challenge that decision in court and see who wins! It will be interesting to see what happens.

But before regulations are imposed on all of us, don't you think (so called) "professional webmasters" selling their services to large companies such as Target should know better? In my opinion, they did Target a disservice and they too should be held accountable in any case.

I still don't see what the big deal is with building sites which validate.

andrea99




msg:349428
 4:26 am on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think Balam was likely pointing at me...

Balam's insulting sticky messages to me indicate otherwise.

I guess that I simply do not understand what you're proposing. I'd like more details--

I'm not proposing anything, merely observing that "simply fixing the problem pages" is not necessarily simple in every instance.

I am not a web designer, I operate a website but do not sell my services as a designer. I resent being told what to do, though as I've already said my own site is accessible and I'm willing to take reasonable measures to keep it so.

But this lawsuit is intended to hurt commerce and is an opportunistic attempt to punish the successful, IMO.

Oliver Henniges




msg:349429
 8:56 am on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Maybe a bit OT: Once or twice a year I receive a telephone-call from one of the first customers who has ever ordered for the second time in my shop, dating back to 2000 I think. She's a blind woman, and I am always surprised how deeply she has investigated my website content. It is particularly surprising insofar as the COLOUR of the widgets we sell plays a very very important role.

I regard her comments as the most valuable feedback I can ever get. The overlaps between search-engine-friendliness and blind-compatibility of websites should be clear to everyone before he even starts to design his first html-page. His company might save a lot of money spent on otherwise unneccessary advertising, and in competitive areas this decides between success and bankruptcy.

The suit will only accellerate an improvement the web and the market demand anyway.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:349430
 10:13 am on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I know I am taking this back to a point that was made earlier but why single out the web for this? Why should web publishers be made to comply when regular publishers do not have to produce braille versions of their books, magazines and newspapers?

There is no logic to this.

victor




msg:349431
 11:44 am on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

There is no logic to this.

Many things which predated the Americans with Disabilities Act only need to be adaped if that can be done "without much difficulty or expense."

Things which come After the act have no such get out clause.

The web comes after the Act

And, as several people have pointed out in this thread, if a website is not easily accessible to a range of disabilites it is because the owner has deliberately (though perhaps unknowingly) done extra work to erect barriers: many websites with poor accessibility must have cost their owners more to build that way. There is no logic to that.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:349432
 1:23 pm on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

deliberately (though perhaps unknowingly)

There is no logic to that ;)

Deliberately:
adv: with intention; in an intentional manner; "he used that word intentionally"; "I did this by choice"

stapel




msg:349433
 1:51 pm on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

victor said:
...if a website is not easily accessible to a range of disabilites it is because the owner has deliberately (though perhaps unknowingly) done extra work to erect barriers....

I'm sorry, but I must disagree.

I do not have a spoken-word version of my site. It was less work not to buy and learn the software to create this shadow site, not more.

I do not have translations of my site into various other languages. It was less work not to learn the languages and/or hire linguists and create this, not more.

I do not have an extra page of detailed measurements and descriptions for each graphical image on my site. It was less work not to write these additional pages, not more.

Eliz.

buckworks




msg:349434
 2:44 pm on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I do not have a spoken-word version of my site

Um, yes you do, like it or not. Anyone who accesses your pages with an audible browser reader will hear it.

shadow site

What do you mean, shadow site? An accessible site is one site, appropriately planned. One site, one version, not something extra.

victor




msg:349435
 2:54 pm on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

There is no logic to that ;)

It may have been deliberately set up with a goal of working only in IE 6.0 which unknowingy creates accessibility barriers.

Anyone who accesses your pages with an audible browser reader will hear it

Unless the site owner has done the extra work to encode all text as graphic images, or hides plain text behind extra javascript calls, or a dozen other ways to complicate a website.

Anyone who has ever taken a support phone call from one of the few kind users who may call to report accessibility issues with the site has probably spent more time on that one phone call explaining: "it's not economical to support Firefox for so few users" (or whatever) than they would have done in producing a universally-accessible site in the first place.

And an accessible site is also pretty much a future-proofed one. Anyone scrambling now to fix IE 7.0 issues is doing so because they took a business risk and lost.

andrea99




msg:349436
 4:04 pm on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

An accessible site is one site, appropriately planned.

And those who "appropriately plan" see a windfall in this lawsuit. I have nothing against them, nor do I harbor any animosity for the blind, but to tell the whole story one must consider that this mandated infrastructure modification is a serious brake upon the economy.

I don't think webmasters should face these barriers, I think they should be able to chose whether they serve the unsighted market. If they were given that choice, those who had accessible websites would be rewarded by getting that extra business.

This lawsuit will cause many worthwhile websites to disappear for the majority of users to satisfy the tiny minority who cannot use them. That is unfair.

pageoneresults




msg:349437
 4:12 pm on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't think webmasters should face these barriers, I think they should be able to chose whether they serve the unsighted market. If they were given that choice, those who had accessible websites would be rewarded by getting that extra business.

They were given that choice each and every time they inserted an element on their page that required an attribute as specified by the HTML 4.01 Guidelines or even those before and after HTML 4.01.

This lawsuit will cause many worthwhile websites to disappear for the majority of users to satisfy the tiny minority who cannot use them. That is unfair.

No it won't. Target was given opportunities prior to the lawsuit to address the issues at hand. Apparently they ignored the warnings and now find themselves in this position.

This isn't going to be happening to the small/medium sized business owner. Why? They typically don't have enough users to generate a lawsuit of this scale. Also, their sites are probably more accessible than the site in question.

It's not a matter of forcing anything. If you are a public company and you have a website that serves the public, you have a more stringent set of guidelines to follow than the small business owner, especially if you are serving an American public.

andrea99




msg:349438
 4:59 pm on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thank you for the thoughtful response pageoneresults. Perhaps you are right, but I'm not worried about the Target website disappearing. It is the more marginal competitor of Target who cannot afford to comply that will disappear and Target, Wal-Mart, et al will become that much stronger. But maybe huge corporate power is OK... Diminishing competition hurts the consumer, but when there is a trade-off between hurting the disabled or hurting everybody, everybody loses.

What will this mean for flash sites? Surely they will have to have a second HTML version to comply.

andrea99




msg:349439
 5:09 pm on Feb 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

This isn't going to be happening to the small/medium sized business owner. Why? They typically don't have enough users to generate a lawsuit of this scale.

That is not true, if Target caves the activists will methodically sue everyone...

This 212 message thread spans 8 pages: < < 212 ( 1 2 3 4 [5] 6 7 8 > >
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