Friday, August 29, 2008

Update: Target settles lawsuit over inaccessible web site

If you haven’t already heard,
Target has settled with the National Federation of the Blind
On the lawsuit brought by the disability rights group over the inaccessibility of the Target web site.

Target Corp. will revamp its Web site to make it more accessible for the blind and pay $6 million in damages to plaintiffs who joined a class action lawsuit against the retailer, under a settlement announced yesterday with the National Federation of the Blind.

The national retail giant did not admit any wrong in the settlement and company officials have stated that they made improvements to the Target web site after the filing of the lawsuit.

"The NFB is very hopeful that this will be sort of a wake-up call to companies to pay attention to the issue of accessibility and that it is in their best interest to make their Web sites accessible to the blind," said Chris Danielsen, an NFB spokesman.

Speaking as a person who uses a screen reader, I’m personally very pleased to see this whole matter settled. First, the matter illustrates how businesses that operate on the web impact the lives of blind and visually consumers. Secondly, the settlement means this has been resolved and we can move forward from here. Progress is being made, albeit one step at a time.

For me, “Do the right thing” is a personal mantra, one that I believe in and pass along wherever and however it applies. In this case, Target began by not doing the right thing, but by application of the proverbial stick, they’ve come to see the light and do the right thing. Unfortunately, it is going to cost them some money in the process. They should’ve tried to take the carrot approach and just done it right when they first found out their site was inaccessible.

Update: 09/02/08

Its been said that in a compromise, neither side is fully happy. Maybe that explains why, since the news of the Target settlement has had sufficient time to make the rounds on the internet, opinions of this case vary. To understand some of the contrast, here are two different takes on this matter.

First, in The LA Times article supporting
E-commerce for the blind,
the editors posit:

It's good business -- and it's the law -- for companies to make their websites fully accessible to the visually impaired.

And, to take a differing viewpoint, read
NFB/Target Settlement Falls Short
On Disability Nation, where the editor offers the following:

While the costs for providing training may be somewhat realistic, the payments that Target must make to the NFB over the next three years cause me to wonder about their real purpose for being involved in the case. Target is to pay the NFB $50,000 immediately and then another $40,000 within 12 months. This is followed by additional payments of $40,000 over the next few years. According to the settlement it appears the total of these payments will be $210,000. These payments are to cover the costs that the NFB will take on in monitoring the accessibility of the Target site. Combine this amount with the figure they will receive for providing Target employees with technical training on accessibility and you arrive at a figure likely at or above a quarter of a million dollars.

I’m certain more discussion of the accessibility issues and agreement between these two parties will come in time as the dust settles on this matter. And, I’m just as certain that even more dust will be stirred up in its wake as other sites fail to understand the legal implications of this suit.

1 comment:

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