February 10, 2006 1:48 PM PST

Blind patrons sue Target for site inaccessibility

Bruce Sexton says he's one of many blind individuals who can live more independently because of the Internet.

When it comes to shopping, for example, the 24-year-old college student doesn't have to get to and navigate brick-and-mortar stores or ask employees for help. Rather, with the help of a keyboard and screen-reading software, he can navigate a Web site and make his purchase.

Or can he?

Sexton, along with a blind advocacy group, filed a class action lawsuit this week against Target, alleging that the retail giant's Web site is inaccessible to the blind and thus violates a California law that incorporates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The suit, filed in Northern California's Alameda County Superior Court by Sexton and the Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind (NFB), claims that Target.com, "contains thousands of access barriers that make it difficult, if not impossible, for blind customers to use."

For example, the suit charges that visual information is missing "alt-text," or invisible code that allows screen readers to detect and vocalize a description of an image. In addition, the site lacks accessible image maps, an impediment to jumping to different site destinations, the suit says. As a result, Sexton, who attends the University of California, Berkeley, says that while he can search the site for specific products, he's unable to associate prices with those goods.

Sexton, who is president of the California Association of Blind Students, said he has always been too frustrated with Target.com to reach the point of actually buying something. If he did get to the checkout point, he would face an additional barrier: the Web site requires the use of a mouse to complete a transaction, noted plaintiffs' attorney Mazen Basrawi, who works for Berkeley, Calif.-based Disability Rights Advocates and is also blind.

For a blind person, using a mouse makes it more difficult to gauge one's bearings on a site, explained another representative of the Disability Rights Advocates.

"A blind patron cannot purchase anything at Target.com without sighted help," Basrawi said, adding that Target.com is just one prominent example of many corporate sites that fail to meet minimum Web accessibility standards. "This is the tip of the iceberg."

A Target spokeswoman told CNET News.com on Friday that the company has not yet been served with legal papers, and therefore cannot comment on any specific allegations. "However, we strive to make our goods and services available to all of our guests, including those with disabilities," reads a statement from the company.

Specifically, the suit argues that Target is violating the California Disabled Persons Act, which guarantees full and equal access for people with disabilities to all public places. It also argues that Target is violating the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, because blind patrons have been denied full and equal access to Target.com and have been provided services inferior to non-disabled patrons.

The lawsuit seeks changes to the Web site, an admission of the alleged violations by the company, and an undesignated amount of damages to plaintiffs as well as attorneys' fees.

But Baltimore-based plaintiffs' attorney Daniel Goldstein said the suit's larger goal is educating companies about Web site accessibility issues that can be fixed relatively inexpensively. He added that there are financial incentives for doing so, particularly with the growing numbers of blind baby boomers who are Web consumers. "We're just forcing retailers to make more money," he said.

The NFB wrote to Target in May, asking it to make the site more accessible, according to the plaintiffs. Negotiations broke down in January, which led to the filing of the lawsuit, the organization said.

Target.com is "powered by Amazon.com," something defined on the site as utilizing "Amazon.com technology and patented Web site capabilities such as 1-Click checkout to make shopping faster and more convenient for you."

Basrawi says it's not clear if that Amazon technology is leading to the inaccessibility issues, but he knows of other "powered by Amazon" retail sites that are problematic for the blind.

This is just the latest in a series of lawsuits filed related to Web accessibility for the blind. Goldstein represented the NFB in a case against America Online that ended in a 2000 settlement that led to better Web service for the blind, he said. And in August 2004, Priceline.com and Ramada.com agreed to make their Web pages easier to navigate for the blind and visually impaired as part of a settlement with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

But soon after, a federal appeals court ruled that Web publishers are not required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act in a case filed by an advocacy group for the blind asking Southwest Airlines to redesign its Web site.

See more CNET content tagged:
Target Corp., Target.com, patron, plaintiff, suit

249 comments

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The right step
I'm actually surprised this hasn't happened sooner. I'm not
necessarily saying that Target is a big, bad evil store. I'm just
saying that this sort of thing has been coming for a long time.

Got Zeldman?
Posted by (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I totally agree... bad Target!
"people with disabilities" have done alot for the internet.. lets not forget our roots...
Posted by freq (121 comments )
Link Flag
Crimp the Lawyer's Money Machine
What happened to this world? We now live in a time where
someone falling down in front of your house can SUE you for
their own inability to walk upright. Some lawyer will convince the
"victim" that they can extract huge sums of money from the
homeowner. Why is that OK?

There should be a Judicial Board to evaluate cases reported to be
frivolous law suits. The board would have to be made up of
REASONABLE people. If the case is found to be frivolous, the
lawyers bringing the suit would be fined some multiple of the
damages they seek - and disbarred after five instances. That'll
put a crimp into the lawyer's money machine.

I'm going to suggest that to my Congressman.
Posted by HuggerMugger (26 comments )
Link Flag
www.thebignoticeboard.com
probably a bit harsh. americans sue for anything these days
Posted by thebignoticeboard.com (23 comments )
Link Flag
The right step
I'm actually surprised this hasn't happened sooner. I'm not
necessarily saying that Target is a big, bad evil store. I'm just
saying that this sort of thing has been coming for a long time.

Got Zeldman?
Posted by (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I totally agree... bad Target!
"people with disabilities" have done alot for the internet.. lets not forget our roots...
Posted by freq (121 comments )
Link Flag
Crimp the Lawyer's Money Machine
What happened to this world? We now live in a time where
someone falling down in front of your house can SUE you for
their own inability to walk upright. Some lawyer will convince the
"victim" that they can extract huge sums of money from the
homeowner. Why is that OK?

There should be a Judicial Board to evaluate cases reported to be
frivolous law suits. The board would have to be made up of
REASONABLE people. If the case is found to be frivolous, the
lawyers bringing the suit would be fined some multiple of the
damages they seek - and disbarred after five instances. That'll
put a crimp into the lawyer's money machine.

I'm going to suggest that to my Congressman.
Posted by HuggerMugger (26 comments )
Link Flag
www.thebignoticeboard.com
probably a bit harsh. americans sue for anything these days
Posted by thebignoticeboard.com (23 comments )
Link Flag
Why do they deserve money?
While I can't even begin to imagine how bad it is to be blind, there is one thing about this suit that I think is crappy.

Sueing Target to get them to change there website so it's more accessible by the blind because there are laws in place that require them to, completely understandable.

Making Target admit to making certain violations, which is sort of an appology to the blind for not following certain guidelines, understandable.

I can even understand them wanting Target to pay the legal fees related to the trial, but why do they feel they deserve "an undesignated amount of damages to plaintiffs" because someone made a mistake?!?

What damage did target really do to these people except to make it frustrating for them to navigate Target's website? They could simply go to Walmart.com or some other website that actually has their website setup right.

Wanting money from this just doesn't make sense to me, anyone else think the same thing?
Posted by Bryan Bartlett (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Just another suit from greedy people that want $$
As far as i can see, Target.com isnt breaking any law. If they were, bring it to court through the state attorney general, not suing. To me, going the suing route is more about $$/greed then justice.

Besides that, it's a open market, Target.com can do whatever they want. They're not the only company online to sell things, it's their lost in terms of $$ to the blind, but that's their decision.

Overall, just because this is suit about $$... i cant see this as anything but a greedy person lead by more greedy lawyers. They'll get tons of $$, at that point, they wouldnt need to be shopping at Target.com anymore, they could probably more up to, Macys.com ;)
Posted by Thinkforachange (15 comments )
Link Flag
Money Talks
If you want a company to change it's business practices you have to make them pay. If people didn't make companies pay we would all be driving Pinto's with asbestos lining.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
yeah i agree...
people always want to cash in when it comes to suing big corporations, and this guy is no different. while it makes for a good hook for the nightly news "target is not handicapped friendly" it's more of the same greed we see everyday, this guy just happens to be blind.
Posted by stealt403 (48 comments )
Link Flag
Why do they deserve money?
While I can't even begin to imagine how bad it is to be blind, there is one thing about this suit that I think is crappy.

Sueing Target to get them to change there website so it's more accessible by the blind because there are laws in place that require them to, completely understandable.

Making Target admit to making certain violations, which is sort of an appology to the blind for not following certain guidelines, understandable.

I can even understand them wanting Target to pay the legal fees related to the trial, but why do they feel they deserve "an undesignated amount of damages to plaintiffs" because someone made a mistake?!?

What damage did target really do to these people except to make it frustrating for them to navigate Target's website? They could simply go to Walmart.com or some other website that actually has their website setup right.

Wanting money from this just doesn't make sense to me, anyone else think the same thing?
Posted by Bryan Bartlett (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Just another suit from greedy people that want $$
As far as i can see, Target.com isnt breaking any law. If they were, bring it to court through the state attorney general, not suing. To me, going the suing route is more about $$/greed then justice.

Besides that, it's a open market, Target.com can do whatever they want. They're not the only company online to sell things, it's their lost in terms of $$ to the blind, but that's their decision.

Overall, just because this is suit about $$... i cant see this as anything but a greedy person lead by more greedy lawyers. They'll get tons of $$, at that point, they wouldnt need to be shopping at Target.com anymore, they could probably more up to, Macys.com ;)
Posted by Thinkforachange (15 comments )
Link Flag
Money Talks
If you want a company to change it's business practices you have to make them pay. If people didn't make companies pay we would all be driving Pinto's with asbestos lining.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
yeah i agree...
people always want to cash in when it comes to suing big corporations, and this guy is no different. while it makes for a good hook for the nightly news "target is not handicapped friendly" it's more of the same greed we see everyday, this guy just happens to be blind.
Posted by stealt403 (48 comments )
Link Flag
Corporate Blackmail
There are NO major e-commerce websites that meet all the qualifications listed in this suit and many of the requirements aren't even feasible. This is an attempt to extort money from a large corporation.

I'll bet on the outcome. Target will settle this for a couple mill with about 75% of that going to the attorneys.

Sad to see a blind person being used as a shill by a greedy attorney.
Posted by StinkyMcButt (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You Are Misinformed
This post is patently untrue. See <a href="http://www.webstandards.org">webstandards.org</a> for an analysis of the claims of this suit by web professionals.
Posted by booboo1243 (328 comments )
Link Flag
Example of accessible e-commerce store
"There are NO major e-commerce websites that meet all the qualifications listed in this suit and many of the requirements aren't even feasible."

Incorrect. The disney stores were running Karova, which is an accessible and webstandards compliant e-commerce engine. It won a number of rave reviews and awards. Karova's level of accessibility exceeds the NFB's requirements by a significant margin.
Posted by Isofarro (53 comments )
Link Flag
Corporate Blackmail
There are NO major e-commerce websites that meet all the qualifications listed in this suit and many of the requirements aren't even feasible. This is an attempt to extort money from a large corporation.

I'll bet on the outcome. Target will settle this for a couple mill with about 75% of that going to the attorneys.

Sad to see a blind person being used as a shill by a greedy attorney.
Posted by StinkyMcButt (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You Are Misinformed
This post is patently untrue. See <a href="http://www.webstandards.org">webstandards.org</a> for an analysis of the claims of this suit by web professionals.
Posted by booboo1243 (328 comments )
Link Flag
Example of accessible e-commerce store
"There are NO major e-commerce websites that meet all the qualifications listed in this suit and many of the requirements aren't even feasible."

Incorrect. The disney stores were running Karova, which is an accessible and webstandards compliant e-commerce engine. It won a number of rave reviews and awards. Karova's level of accessibility exceeds the NFB's requirements by a significant margin.
Posted by Isofarro (53 comments )
Link Flag
More abuse
under the guise of the ADA.

The motto of the ADA should be "We want to be equal to you...
no matter what the cost or inconvenience is to you"

If you're blind, deaf, whatever, life has dealt you a crappy hand.
Is is completely inconceivable that at some point in your life
you're going to need the assistance of someone?

"A blind patron cannot purchase anything at Target.com without
sighted help,"

What's next, forcing porn sites to add subtitles for deaf people?
How about graphic verbal descriptions of the action for the
blind?

I hate to sound totally unsympathetic, but everything is NOT
going to be equal for those of you with disabilities. All the
lawsuits in the world are not going to make everything equal.
Get over yourselves and accept that you have limitations and
that sometimes you WILL NEED TO ASK FOR HELP!!!
Posted by fear_and_loathing (82 comments )
Reply Link Flag
LIFE, deal with it
i agree very much, it's a different life for "disabled" people, and we should help them when we can. But hey, IT'S LIFE. You wont get everything you want in life, deal with it (with your own abilities, adjust by yourself). Dont go around suing the world for not being the same. I know what i say might sound cruel, but that's how the world is, like i said.

I think no company should be forced to do something they dont wanna. With only the exception that it's essential to people to survive. Things like public services, food, health services, things along those lines. Things that there arent any alternatives to survive. As i see Target.com, it isnt the only option for this blind person to survive at all. They could always goto a actual Target store, goto another website, goto another real store. there are so many options, so why they going suing any company u not happy about what they provide.
Posted by Thinkforachange (15 comments )
Link Flag
Not true
The law is that you must make any reasonable effort to
accommodate those with disabilities.

Your comparisons are ludicrous. It isn't that hard to include ALT
tags on images, or create a text-only version of their website.

Blind people still use the internet, and if you're going to offer an
online store, it's necessary to include people with disabilities.
Just like you can't exclude a wheelchair ramp or handicap
parking in front of your store.
Posted by ethernet76 (88 comments )
Link Flag
Independence is valuable
"If you're blind, deaf, whatever, life has dealt you a crappy hand. Is is completely inconceivable that at some point in your life you're going to need the assistance of someone?"

At some point. But the web is an accessible medium. Target have gone out of their way to make their website inaccessible.

The Web is one of the few places a disabled person can have their independence. Yet, companies like Target, with their substandard quality websites, make it impossible for blind people to use their sites - and there is no justifiable reason for it.

For a decently coded site, a blind person will be able to use the services and information on offer. But Target haven't done their jobs properly. They've taken away the independence of blind people on their website. Is it intentional?
Posted by Isofarro (53 comments )
Link Flag
More abuse
under the guise of the ADA.

The motto of the ADA should be "We want to be equal to you...
no matter what the cost or inconvenience is to you"

If you're blind, deaf, whatever, life has dealt you a crappy hand.
Is is completely inconceivable that at some point in your life
you're going to need the assistance of someone?

"A blind patron cannot purchase anything at Target.com without
sighted help,"

What's next, forcing porn sites to add subtitles for deaf people?
How about graphic verbal descriptions of the action for the
blind?

I hate to sound totally unsympathetic, but everything is NOT
going to be equal for those of you with disabilities. All the
lawsuits in the world are not going to make everything equal.
Get over yourselves and accept that you have limitations and
that sometimes you WILL NEED TO ASK FOR HELP!!!
Posted by fear_and_loathing (82 comments )
Reply Link Flag
LIFE, deal with it
i agree very much, it's a different life for "disabled" people, and we should help them when we can. But hey, IT'S LIFE. You wont get everything you want in life, deal with it (with your own abilities, adjust by yourself). Dont go around suing the world for not being the same. I know what i say might sound cruel, but that's how the world is, like i said.

I think no company should be forced to do something they dont wanna. With only the exception that it's essential to people to survive. Things like public services, food, health services, things along those lines. Things that there arent any alternatives to survive. As i see Target.com, it isnt the only option for this blind person to survive at all. They could always goto a actual Target store, goto another website, goto another real store. there are so many options, so why they going suing any company u not happy about what they provide.
Posted by Thinkforachange (15 comments )
Link Flag
Not true
The law is that you must make any reasonable effort to
accommodate those with disabilities.

Your comparisons are ludicrous. It isn't that hard to include ALT
tags on images, or create a text-only version of their website.

Blind people still use the internet, and if you're going to offer an
online store, it's necessary to include people with disabilities.
Just like you can't exclude a wheelchair ramp or handicap
parking in front of your store.
Posted by ethernet76 (88 comments )
Link Flag
Independence is valuable
"If you're blind, deaf, whatever, life has dealt you a crappy hand. Is is completely inconceivable that at some point in your life you're going to need the assistance of someone?"

At some point. But the web is an accessible medium. Target have gone out of their way to make their website inaccessible.

The Web is one of the few places a disabled person can have their independence. Yet, companies like Target, with their substandard quality websites, make it impossible for blind people to use their sites - and there is no justifiable reason for it.

For a decently coded site, a blind person will be able to use the services and information on offer. But Target haven't done their jobs properly. They've taken away the independence of blind people on their website. Is it intentional?
Posted by Isofarro (53 comments )
Link Flag
Something is wrong here.....
... I appreciate a blind person's problems trying to use he
internet for anything, but the Internet is essentially a visual
structure, and it's not meant to interact with blind people. Nor
can any sort of text reader even begin to be adequate for almost
all web pages. So a suit like thins one is frivolous and almost a
legal sham.

Maybe we need a a special access mode for blind people, with
simpler web pages suitable for text readers. I don't think that
this mode has any reason to be mandatory, but it could be
optional for any site that wanted to offer it. The user could have
a master cookie on his or her computer which designated the
user as blimd in one form or another.

Last time I checked, the telephone companies aren't required to
provide phone books in braille. But any person can dial the
operator, say "braille", and get full assistance in locating a phone
number. But no braille phone book. So when was the last time
this group sued the phone company?

Seems like there are more important things these peopl could be
doing.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Braille Internet
I'm enraged because there is no braille internet. What if a blind user
doesn't have reader software?
Posted by mahuti (24 comments )
Link Flag
Exactly Right
Phone books in Braille - wow that would be stupid. Hmm, but how about providing operator assistance, why that's a good workaround.

Now just apply the same logic: the Internet in Braille would make no sense, but how about an easy to implement workaround. Hmm, like I don't know maybe freakin' Alt tab or two. Too much to ask?

When do you think phone companies started offering operator assistance and TTY service? Just because they wanted to? Nope, it was a bunch of lawsuits. So when was the last time someone sued the phone company for failing to provide disabled service? It happens every day, and if it didn't they wouldn't provide any service at all.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
Web is not limited to visual perception.
"but the Internet is essentially a visual structure, and it's not meant to interact with blind people."

That is completely wrong. The Web is largely a textual protocol - it carries accessibility within itself. Your perception of it as a visual structure is only one aspect of the web. A properly coded site - at least one that meets basic levels of accessibility - is not limited to visual perceptions.

"Nor can any sort of text reader even begin to be adequate for almost all web pages."

Blind people have probably been using the web for far longer than you. Even before the first graphical browser hit the web, the web was actively used by blind people. Screen readers are adequate for the job - they do their jobs well. As tools, they cannot do the impossible, they cannot extract the correct information from an image. That barrier has to be alleviated by the website, by providing a textual alternative.

"Maybe we need a a special access mode for blind people, with simpler web pages suitable for text readers."

There is no reason for this - websites can be coded to meet basic levels of accessibility without needing such a draconian approach.
Posted by Isofarro (53 comments )
Link Flag
Something is wrong here.....
... I appreciate a blind person's problems trying to use he
internet for anything, but the Internet is essentially a visual
structure, and it's not meant to interact with blind people. Nor
can any sort of text reader even begin to be adequate for almost
all web pages. So a suit like thins one is frivolous and almost a
legal sham.

Maybe we need a a special access mode for blind people, with
simpler web pages suitable for text readers. I don't think that
this mode has any reason to be mandatory, but it could be
optional for any site that wanted to offer it. The user could have
a master cookie on his or her computer which designated the
user as blimd in one form or another.

Last time I checked, the telephone companies aren't required to
provide phone books in braille. But any person can dial the
operator, say "braille", and get full assistance in locating a phone
number. But no braille phone book. So when was the last time
this group sued the phone company?

Seems like there are more important things these peopl could be
doing.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Braille Internet
I'm enraged because there is no braille internet. What if a blind user
doesn't have reader software?
Posted by mahuti (24 comments )
Link Flag
Exactly Right
Phone books in Braille - wow that would be stupid. Hmm, but how about providing operator assistance, why that's a good workaround.

Now just apply the same logic: the Internet in Braille would make no sense, but how about an easy to implement workaround. Hmm, like I don't know maybe freakin' Alt tab or two. Too much to ask?

When do you think phone companies started offering operator assistance and TTY service? Just because they wanted to? Nope, it was a bunch of lawsuits. So when was the last time someone sued the phone company for failing to provide disabled service? It happens every day, and if it didn't they wouldn't provide any service at all.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
Web is not limited to visual perception.
"but the Internet is essentially a visual structure, and it's not meant to interact with blind people."

That is completely wrong. The Web is largely a textual protocol - it carries accessibility within itself. Your perception of it as a visual structure is only one aspect of the web. A properly coded site - at least one that meets basic levels of accessibility - is not limited to visual perceptions.

"Nor can any sort of text reader even begin to be adequate for almost all web pages."

Blind people have probably been using the web for far longer than you. Even before the first graphical browser hit the web, the web was actively used by blind people. Screen readers are adequate for the job - they do their jobs well. As tools, they cannot do the impossible, they cannot extract the correct information from an image. That barrier has to be alleviated by the website, by providing a textual alternative.

"Maybe we need a a special access mode for blind people, with simpler web pages suitable for text readers."

There is no reason for this - websites can be coded to meet basic levels of accessibility without needing such a draconian approach.
Posted by Isofarro (53 comments )
Link Flag
Let's sue all the TV networks while we're at it.
Sure, why not sue the TV networks because they don't make the inverse of "closed-captioning" for the blind. Wait a minute...wait a minute...I've got it! Let's sue the radio stations because they don't make their content accessible to the deaf!

While we're at it, let's sue the states for not following ADA guidelines to permit the blind to drive.

And lawyers wonder why they have a bad reputation? They only have themselves to blame.
Posted by bjlevine (85 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The web is a muti-faceted medium
"why not sue the TV networks because they don't make the inverse of "closed-captioning" for the blind."

You don't have sound on your TV? Wow - you are missing out.

"Let's sue the radio stations because they don't make their content accessible to the deaf!"

Radio is an aural medium, it has no visual facets, as such it is a limited medium. The web, however does not have this limitation. A piece of text on a website can be displayed (visual), read out (aural), or rendered on a refreshable braille display (touch). One piece of information rendered for three distinct senses.
Posted by Isofarro (53 comments )
Link Flag
This is becoming quite a time sink.
Yet another fine example of drawing parallels where there aren't any. What we have here is something within human control preventing blind people from accessing, or making it difficult for blind people to access, a given site. Note, if you will, my use of the words "within human control". For the sake of this discussion, and because I haven't visited target.com, I shall assume that the existing process completely bars access for the blind.

Ergo, the minute you can convince me that sighted help is required for blind people to watch television, or how adding a line or twenty of code can grant def people access to radio or fix that pesky problem of blind people not being able to perceive oncoming traffic whilst driving (we've got the location problem reasonably licked), this argument has merit. Otherwise, what we have here are more ill-thought-out quackings from people who know about as much on this topic as I know about graphic design. This is to say nothing of the absurdity of invoking the ADA with regard to blind people driving. No one with any knowledge of the act would suggest such stupidity, because a bona fide safety issue is going to take precedence. Again, please tell me how equal access to target.com would create a safety issue.
Posted by tallin32 (11 comments )
Link Flag
Let's sue all the TV networks while we're at it.
Sure, why not sue the TV networks because they don't make the inverse of "closed-captioning" for the blind. Wait a minute...wait a minute...I've got it! Let's sue the radio stations because they don't make their content accessible to the deaf!

While we're at it, let's sue the states for not following ADA guidelines to permit the blind to drive.

And lawyers wonder why they have a bad reputation? They only have themselves to blame.
Posted by bjlevine (85 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The web is a muti-faceted medium
"why not sue the TV networks because they don't make the inverse of "closed-captioning" for the blind."

You don't have sound on your TV? Wow - you are missing out.

"Let's sue the radio stations because they don't make their content accessible to the deaf!"

Radio is an aural medium, it has no visual facets, as such it is a limited medium. The web, however does not have this limitation. A piece of text on a website can be displayed (visual), read out (aural), or rendered on a refreshable braille display (touch). One piece of information rendered for three distinct senses.
Posted by Isofarro (53 comments )
Link Flag
This is becoming quite a time sink.
Yet another fine example of drawing parallels where there aren't any. What we have here is something within human control preventing blind people from accessing, or making it difficult for blind people to access, a given site. Note, if you will, my use of the words "within human control". For the sake of this discussion, and because I haven't visited target.com, I shall assume that the existing process completely bars access for the blind.

Ergo, the minute you can convince me that sighted help is required for blind people to watch television, or how adding a line or twenty of code can grant def people access to radio or fix that pesky problem of blind people not being able to perceive oncoming traffic whilst driving (we've got the location problem reasonably licked), this argument has merit. Otherwise, what we have here are more ill-thought-out quackings from people who know about as much on this topic as I know about graphic design. This is to say nothing of the absurdity of invoking the ADA with regard to blind people driving. No one with any knowledge of the act would suggest such stupidity, because a bona fide safety issue is going to take precedence. Again, please tell me how equal access to target.com would create a safety issue.
Posted by tallin32 (11 comments )
Link Flag
Another Gravy Train For Lawyers
We need to take the profit motive for attorneys out of class action lawsuits. There needs to be a cap on attorney's fees, just like there is a cap on plaintiff awards (medical awards). Taking the obscene profit motive out of these multi-million dollar cases would reduce them down to truly meritous cases and not just an opportunity for greenmail. Face it, the general public will end up paying higher prices at Target so that the lawyers at Ambulance, Chaiser, &#38; Smith can build even bigger mansions in Atherton.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another Gravy Train For Lawyers
We need to take the profit motive for attorneys out of class action lawsuits. There needs to be a cap on attorney's fees, just like there is a cap on plaintiff awards (medical awards). Taking the obscene profit motive out of these multi-million dollar cases would reduce them down to truly meritous cases and not just an opportunity for greenmail. Face it, the general public will end up paying higher prices at Target so that the lawyers at Ambulance, Chaiser, &#38; Smith can build even bigger mansions in Atherton.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I'm glad
I was going to comment on what a wasteful suit this is but it seems everyone is doing fine on this.

Equality for life's essentials I can understand but shopping on the internet is not an essential.
Perhaps poor people should sue Target for not selling products at a loss?

I'm glad, for once, that I live in a country that doesn't allow for CONTINUOUS lawsuits to be launched for (from foreign eyes) what seems like ANYTHING.

It is too bad that lawyers in the US have so much power that it is going to be extremely tough for Americans to change this.
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I'm glad
I was going to comment on what a wasteful suit this is but it seems everyone is doing fine on this.

Equality for life's essentials I can understand but shopping on the internet is not an essential.
Perhaps poor people should sue Target for not selling products at a loss?

I'm glad, for once, that I live in a country that doesn't allow for CONTINUOUS lawsuits to be launched for (from foreign eyes) what seems like ANYTHING.

It is too bad that lawyers in the US have so much power that it is going to be extremely tough for Americans to change this.
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Public Places
Quote:

Specifically, the suit argues that Target is violating the California Disabled Persons Act, which guarantees full and equal access for people with disabilities to all public places.

A website is a 'public place'...ok...everyone in their underwear at the computer, you are being charged with exposure....everyone drinking at the computer, public drunkeness....everyone smoking... you get the idea.
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Reply Link Flag
LOL
Never thought of it that way, but you're right. Too funny.
Posted by thenet411 (415 comments )
Link Flag
Public Places
Quote:

Specifically, the suit argues that Target is violating the California Disabled Persons Act, which guarantees full and equal access for people with disabilities to all public places.

A website is a 'public place'...ok...everyone in their underwear at the computer, you are being charged with exposure....everyone drinking at the computer, public drunkeness....everyone smoking... you get the idea.
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Reply Link Flag
LOL
Never thought of it that way, but you're right. Too funny.
Posted by thenet411 (415 comments )
Link Flag
This is absurd
Why do people with disibilites think they DESERVE compensation for such things. I can definetly understand the actual physical store front for being able to accomodate for wheelchair entrances and such, but, this is america, and seeing as how they are not owned by the government, they should have their website designed any way they like. ANYONE who does web programming or development (I do) knows that complying with these would be difficult, and in some situations, impssible. Especially if navigation menu's are written in JavaScript or Flash. Should sites have to use BASIC html even though the site would be visualy un-attractive to the majority of people (who do not happen to have a visual disibility) so that a minority can access it? I sure hope this doesnt lead to nationwide legislation, or, sure enough, even personal websites or personal blogs will have to make sure the site is programmed for visualy disabled people...
Posted by troy2000me (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Modern web development
"ANYONE who does web programming or development (I do) knows that complying with these would be difficult, and in some situations, impssible."

Ridiculous. What the NFB are asking for is peanuts. If the changes take more than a day to do, then you are incompetant as a web developer. Text equivalents to images are straight forward, they require nothing more than an extra attribute on images - elementary. An image map will need a text equivalent list of links - piece of cake. The mouse dependency problem on submit buttons - Target have fixed one or two of these _after_ the suit was launched. A bit of server-side logic so as not to rely on x and y coordinates being received for image submit buttons and you are done.

"Especially if navigation menu's are written in JavaScript or Flash."

Its not difficult providing a text equivalent. Although only an absolute beginner would rely on Flash or JavaScript for navigation.

"Should sites have to use BASIC html even though the site would be visualy un-attractive to the majority of people (who do not happen to have a visual disibility) so that a minority can access it?"

And you call yourself a web developer? Don't you even know about a layered approach to web development. Teach yourself by searching on "progressive enhancement" and "graceful degradation" - that's what modern web development is all about.
Posted by Isofarro (53 comments )
Link Flag
This is absurd
Why do people with disibilites think they DESERVE compensation for such things. I can definetly understand the actual physical store front for being able to accomodate for wheelchair entrances and such, but, this is america, and seeing as how they are not owned by the government, they should have their website designed any way they like. ANYONE who does web programming or development (I do) knows that complying with these would be difficult, and in some situations, impssible. Especially if navigation menu's are written in JavaScript or Flash. Should sites have to use BASIC html even though the site would be visualy un-attractive to the majority of people (who do not happen to have a visual disibility) so that a minority can access it? I sure hope this doesnt lead to nationwide legislation, or, sure enough, even personal websites or personal blogs will have to make sure the site is programmed for visualy disabled people...
Posted by troy2000me (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Modern web development
"ANYONE who does web programming or development (I do) knows that complying with these would be difficult, and in some situations, impssible."

Ridiculous. What the NFB are asking for is peanuts. If the changes take more than a day to do, then you are incompetant as a web developer. Text equivalents to images are straight forward, they require nothing more than an extra attribute on images - elementary. An image map will need a text equivalent list of links - piece of cake. The mouse dependency problem on submit buttons - Target have fixed one or two of these _after_ the suit was launched. A bit of server-side logic so as not to rely on x and y coordinates being received for image submit buttons and you are done.

"Especially if navigation menu's are written in JavaScript or Flash."

Its not difficult providing a text equivalent. Although only an absolute beginner would rely on Flash or JavaScript for navigation.

"Should sites have to use BASIC html even though the site would be visualy un-attractive to the majority of people (who do not happen to have a visual disibility) so that a minority can access it?"

And you call yourself a web developer? Don't you even know about a layered approach to web development. Teach yourself by searching on "progressive enhancement" and "graceful degradation" - that's what modern web development is all about.
Posted by Isofarro (53 comments )
Link Flag
Many disability lawsuits are scams
I have not researched the name plaintiff in this case yet, but he
may be among several nationally known disabled professional
plaintiffs who bring frivolous lawsuits against businesses and
live off the proceeds. The businesses settle for thousands of
dollars and the plaintiffs live very well off the proceeds. A couple
of them happen to have law degrees, but actually having a
complaint heard in court is not the point. The settlement is. I
am talking about the same plaintiff filing dozens, hundreds or
thousands of lawsuits. Even with settlements of a few thousand
dollars, the pay out adds up.

This is important because it harms small businesses. For
example, a plaintiff who specializes in bars and restaurants has
been to hundreds in his area of California. He will say the toilet
is too low or the bar tables too high to be convenient for his
wheelchair and slap the often shoe-string budget businesses
with lawsuits. (All of which read exactly the same.) His 'visits'
take as little as a few minutes. The situation has gotten so bad
that some of these disabled professional plaintiffs have been
barred from filing additional lawsuits in the areas where they
live.

I don't know if the young man in this case is one of them. But, I
am skeptical, having worked in personal injury and products
liability law. Online shopping is still a miniscule share of the
market, so it is odd to see an Internet site targeted. Obviously,
the plaintiff can go to a brick and mortar Target and be served
better there. Furthermore, about 40 percent of the American
public has limited or no access to the Internet. It is odd to see
someone suing for access to something such a large segment of
the public, disabled or not, lacks even the access he has to.
Internet access is still a privilege, not a right. Last, but not least,
I will hazard a guess the young man has an attendant to help
him. The solution to his alleged dilemma is to have his sighted
attendant help him browse the Internet, including making
purchases at Target.

I won't say this case will be dismissed. But, I don't think the
current climate of Congress or the courts will support imposing
laws that guarantee complete Internet access to people with
disabilities. As for the California law that has encouraged
disabled professional plaintiffs, it needs to be changed. Its goal,
giving disabled plaintiffs exactly equal access simply cannot be
achieved much of the time.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is no Jarek Molski suit
"I have not researched the name plaintiff in this case yet, but he may be among several nationally known disabled professional plaintiffs who bring frivolous lawsuits against businesses and live off the proceeds."

You've got to be kidding. They've spent 10 months talking to Target working with them to correct the problems with their site. Then Target turn around and refuse to make the list of changes. That hardly sounds like a hit-and-run Jarek Molski suit.

"Furthermore, about 40 percent of the American public has limited or no access to the Internet."

This form of elitism is not something a website can do anything about. The elitism practiced by Target can be corrected by Target themselves. Especially considering blind people have already spent a thousand dollars or more extra than you on their computers to be able to use the world wide web.
Posted by Isofarro (53 comments )
Link Flag
Many disability lawsuits are scams
I have not researched the name plaintiff in this case yet, but he
may be among several nationally known disabled professional
plaintiffs who bring frivolous lawsuits against businesses and
live off the proceeds. The businesses settle for thousands of
dollars and the plaintiffs live very well off the proceeds. A couple
of them happen to have law degrees, but actually having a
complaint heard in court is not the point. The settlement is. I
am talking about the same plaintiff filing dozens, hundreds or
thousands of lawsuits. Even with settlements of a few thousand
dollars, the pay out adds up.

This is important because it harms small businesses. For
example, a plaintiff who specializes in bars and restaurants has
been to hundreds in his area of California. He will say the toilet
is too low or the bar tables too high to be convenient for his
wheelchair and slap the often shoe-string budget businesses
with lawsuits. (All of which read exactly the same.) His 'visits'
take as little as a few minutes. The situation has gotten so bad
that some of these disabled professional plaintiffs have been
barred from filing additional lawsuits in the areas where they
live.

I don't know if the young man in this case is one of them. But, I
am skeptical, having worked in personal injury and products
liability law. Online shopping is still a miniscule share of the
market, so it is odd to see an Internet site targeted. Obviously,
the plaintiff can go to a brick and mortar Target and be served
better there. Furthermore, about 40 percent of the American
public has limited or no access to the Internet. It is odd to see
someone suing for access to something such a large segment of
the public, disabled or not, lacks even the access he has to.
Internet access is still a privilege, not a right. Last, but not least,
I will hazard a guess the young man has an attendant to help
him. The solution to his alleged dilemma is to have his sighted
attendant help him browse the Internet, including making
purchases at Target.

I won't say this case will be dismissed. But, I don't think the
current climate of Congress or the courts will support imposing
laws that guarantee complete Internet access to people with
disabilities. As for the California law that has encouraged
disabled professional plaintiffs, it needs to be changed. Its goal,
giving disabled plaintiffs exactly equal access simply cannot be
achieved much of the time.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is no Jarek Molski suit
"I have not researched the name plaintiff in this case yet, but he may be among several nationally known disabled professional plaintiffs who bring frivolous lawsuits against businesses and live off the proceeds."

You've got to be kidding. They've spent 10 months talking to Target working with them to correct the problems with their site. Then Target turn around and refuse to make the list of changes. That hardly sounds like a hit-and-run Jarek Molski suit.

"Furthermore, about 40 percent of the American public has limited or no access to the Internet."

This form of elitism is not something a website can do anything about. The elitism practiced by Target can be corrected by Target themselves. Especially considering blind people have already spent a thousand dollars or more extra than you on their computers to be able to use the world wide web.
Posted by Isofarro (53 comments )
Link Flag
Lawsuit appears to be frivolous
After doing some research, I'm pretty sure this lawsuit is frivolous.
There is already a federal appeals court ruling that the Americans
with Disabilities Act does not apply to the Internet. That means
the plaintiff would have to rely on a California state law that is not
applicable to a national business, except when it is doing business
in California. However, this could be a good thing if it results in
that highly unrealistic state law, which has resulted in thousands of
frivolous lawsuits, being overturned.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oversight on the Federal appeals court's part?
Granted that the Americans with Disabilities Act did not, strictly speaking, apply to the Internet, but it should be pointed out that copyright laws weren't written to encompass the myriad ways data can be copied presently, for instance. In short, and I'll grant I haven't done much research in this arena (my field is information technology, not law), the framers couldn't have conceived of the digital revolution that came to pass in the last decade at the time the law was crafted.
Posted by tallin32 (11 comments )
Link Flag
Lawsuit appears to be frivolous
After doing some research, I'm pretty sure this lawsuit is frivolous.
There is already a federal appeals court ruling that the Americans
with Disabilities Act does not apply to the Internet. That means
the plaintiff would have to rely on a California state law that is not
applicable to a national business, except when it is doing business
in California. However, this could be a good thing if it results in
that highly unrealistic state law, which has resulted in thousands of
frivolous lawsuits, being overturned.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oversight on the Federal appeals court's part?
Granted that the Americans with Disabilities Act did not, strictly speaking, apply to the Internet, but it should be pointed out that copyright laws weren't written to encompass the myriad ways data can be copied presently, for instance. In short, and I'll grant I haven't done much research in this arena (my field is information technology, not law), the framers couldn't have conceived of the digital revolution that came to pass in the last decade at the time the law was crafted.
Posted by tallin32 (11 comments )
Link Flag
Totally Sick
I might go blind any freakin day:
Will I be able to drive a car? no. LAWSUIT!
Will I be able to cook -might get burned. LAWSUIT!
Walking up stairs and fall. LAWSUIT!
Cant watch TV. LAWSUIT!
No braile menu at the cafe? LAWSUIT!

This is totally wrong. Its why target has a phone number. OH, wait, cant dial? LAWSUIT!

QUIT TRYING TO BUY CRAP FROM TARGET AND DO SOMETHING USEFUL.
Posted by xrandy3 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not as sick as you might think.
Will I be able to drive a car? no. LAWSUIT!

... Except that infrastructural barriers prevent driving a car. I'm talking about insurmountable ones that can't be overridden with a couple of extra lines of HTML or setting a property in an ASP.NET control to a valid value.

Will I be able to cook -might get burned. LAWSUIT!

... Again, I'd agree with you, but where are you getting the notion that blindness == an increased likelihood of getting burned whilst cooking? I haven't burned myself once through anything that could be directly and entirely attributable to my blindness. Just sayin'.

Walking up stairs and fall. LAWSUIT!

... Um, what??? Presuming you know what you're doing, which you by all rights should, this shouldn't happen. If it does happen, then Joe Blindy, much like Joe Sighty, was probably concentrating on the business meeting/wanting to get home/whatever that was in their immediate frame of consciousness rather than the stairs. So, if you're arguing that point, let's take that a step further and say that all stairwells everywhere should be marked with bright, tactile indicators and maybe a klaxon or two.

Cant watch TV. LAWSUIT!

... Quoi? Last I checked, Nowhere Man, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Law and Order in all its incarnations, Quantum Leap, Call For Help and MSDN-TV are ... um ... TV shows. I watch them. OK, MSDN-TV is more a webcast, but we can pretend that the principal components work similarly for the purpose of this discussion, and Quantum Leap is pretty much only available on DVD or as a set of AVI files, but I'm nitpicking now.

No braile menu at the cafe? LAWSUIT!
... I'm a little confused again. With the advent of online menus and wireless connectivity, is the Braille menu as important as you just made it out to be? What? Didn't figure that blind people could use mobile phones? Research it.

This is totally wrong. Its why target has a phone number. OH, wait, cant dial? LAWSUIT!

... This comment is scoring 0 for ... N here. First, what's left you with the impression that blind people, as a class (or, for you .NET folks, a superclass (a generic?), as there are not enough defining properties to lump us all into one bloody great data type), can't dial a phone? Second, let's take the following scenario: I'm on a train from New York to Philadelphia. Whilst I'm traveling, I remember that I meant to order something, anything, from a given property that has both an online presence and a phone number. Now, which is more secure: giving your credit card number over the phone in a crowded train, or entering your credit card number into an encrypted browser connection? I'll give you two guesses.

And as far as the whole business of "stop buying crap from Target and do something useful", that only works if you work under the assumption that this is an indicator that all that blind people, as a generic type, do is buy things from Target. And as for this being a frivolous lawsuit, it would be nice if things were done right the first time. Believe me, I don't agree with the lawsuit-happy culture of America any more than anyone else who has taken the stand to which I'm replying. It causes people to tell me obvious things like that the latte I ordered is hot. Unfortunatly, it would appear that your average web property all too frequently refuses to make things work universally until it costs them more money to leave things the status quo.
Posted by tallin32 (11 comments )
Link Flag
 

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