For those following the case of website consumer against website retail, in this case, Target, for not being accessible for special needs visitors, a new article sparked some new discussion.
Called, Blind Web surfers sue Target: Suit alleges that the retailer’s Web site is inaccessible for visually impaired, the article’s angle is the viewpoint of blind users, who rely on screenreader software such as JAWS, to access websites.
The fact that the Target website made online purchasing difficult to impossible for a JAWS user brought on a lawsuit.
My irritiation with the coverage of this lawsuit is that it’s a marketing fiasco that is NOT reaching companies and corporations that really need to be paying attention. Unless presented with a business case, many people in management positions have their hands covering their ears, singing Iron Butterfly’s 17 minute long Inagaddadavida to themselves, rather than listening to their customers or clients.
In forums like Cre8asiteforums, where we’re discussing this topic (again), in Why Was Target The Only One?, those interested in accessibility are present and accountable. These forum posts are little more than us preaching to our own choir. We KNOW the situation and we KNOW standards compliancy is the logical route to take.
I feel that this lawsuit, while raising the issue of special needs web usage up several notches on the mainstream radar, is not finding its way to CEO’s, presidents, VP’s, department directors, managers and project managers. Companies that design, develop and sell software applications aren’t testing with blind users. They don’t consider a business case for carpal tunnel sufferers or MS sufferers who can’t use a mouse.
It’s not about who can buy earrings and toasters from Target, or not. It’s not about whether JAWS struggles with mangled up code. Websites that do work are a click away.
It’s whether or not companies are united in the belief that the Internet is a global medium, or just limited to whatever was agreed on during that 9am coffee and donuts meeting last Tuesday. If the potential for a lawsuit is not making a dent in corporate-speak, what will?
Target apparently feels they don’t need to be Section 508 or Accessibility standards compliant because they believe the Americans With Disabilities Act law only covers physical spaces.
A physical space, in today’s world, is no longer something you arrive at by a transport vehicle. To my way of thinking, my house with my computer that can take me to an online order website IS a physical space, regardless of whether or not I can see the order form or use a mouse to access it.
Has no one been reading the statistics on the age of the USA population? (It may be similar outside the US too.) The number of older computer users is escalating and along with them, physical ailments that begin to make using computers difficult. Not preparing for them is a huge mistake.
Finally, accessibility is far bigger in outreach than the narrow viewpoint the news media forces it into. Software that records websites for audio playback later is a huge boon for a busy society that finds little time for reading but can listen instead. Those who have trouble reading, can’t stay focused or suffer from mild forms of seeing impairment all benefit from sound recordings. Websites that are coded for audio usage are smart.
The Target lawsuit and others like it are getting the word out, but their voices are not loud enough to be heard by decision makers, who need to be listening and taking immediate action. We don’t have time for court cases.
Lawsuits are simply not somebody else’s problem anymore.