Following a two-year legal battle, US superstore chain Target has agreed to pay six million dollars to settle a class action brought against it for the inaccessibility of its website.
The company also agreed to make changes to its site to ensure it is accessible, to pay for regular independent accessibility testing of its site, and to pay the legal fees of those who brought the case, although it does not accept liability or agree that the website is inaccessible (fastlink.headstar.com/target1 ).
The case was brought in 2006 by Bruce Sexton, a blind student from the University of California Berkeley, then aged 24, with the support of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB – www.nfb.org). Two other individuals subsequently joined the case, Melissa Williamson and James Marks.
The plaintiffs had alleged that Target’s website (http://www.target.com/) was inaccessible to visually impaired screenreader users in what amounted to “systemic civil rights violations” by the company (www.nfbtargetlawsuit.com).
They told a district court in San Francisco that the site “contains thousands of access barriers that make it difficult if not impossible for blind customers to use the website…Target thus excludes the blind from full and equal participation in the growing Internet economy that is increasingly a fundamental part of the common market place and daily life.”
Although Target did not admit to liability, or accept that it had broken the law or that its website was inaccessible, many analysts feel the size of the payment may be enough to cause other website owners to improve accessibility now rather than risk being forced to make similar payments.
For more see: www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=204