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BizReport : Law & Regulation : September 19, 2006

Landmark Court Case Sets Precedent In Accessibility For The Blind

I hadn't updated my blog in six months and when I accessed recently, I found to my surprise that before I could upload my latest saga, I was requested to enter a numerical code that was read out to me by a human voice. It was a new feature and I instantly understood why the creators of have added it; at the moment, tons of public website owners are instructing their developers to ascertain that blind people have no difficulties navigating their pages.

by Angelique van Engelen

The reason? A class action lawsuit against e-tailer by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). It was accepted a few days ago by the US District Court for the Northern District of California. Target filed a motion to have the case dismissed, but Judge Marilyn Hall Patel dismissed that motion.

The lawsuit is setting a precedent for the e-commerce industry. Industry experts say, it is going to change 'the way every corporation and designer approaches Web development in the future'. omitted to make its site accessible because of "lack of alt-text on graphics," "inaccessible image maps," "lack of adequate labelling" and "lack of navigation links."

John Paré, the director of Public Relations at the NFB told that if his organization finds other web sites which are not accessible, 'we will bring this fact to the company's attention and encourage the company to correct the problem. If the company is unwilling to make its web site accessible, then the National Federation of the Blind will take the appropriate legal action.' The legal publication had suggested that the case was unlikely to affect sites like MySpace, Google, Yahoo!, YouTube, or any other US-based pure-play dot.coms.

The NFB says it's going to do everything to contest this. The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) promoted by the W3 Consortium is considered the industry standard and offers a free testing tool on its site.

Tags: online retailing,, usability

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  • Lunacy. I'm all for any rights and equality, but to have a legal ruling on what is basically like selling a book, a piece of writing displayed....then to force this??



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