February 21, 2006, 12:00 AM

Target is not just a defendant, but an example, plaintiffs’ attorney says

A class-action lawsuit charging that Target.com has accessibility barriers preventing blind consumers from shopping online is meant to be an example to other non-compliant retailers, says the plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel F. Goldstein.

 

A class-action lawsuit charging that Target.com has accessibility barriers preventing blind consumers from shopping online is meant to be an example to other non-compliant retailers, says the plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel F. Goldstein.

Target.com is not the only site that has barriers preventing consumers from shopping online, but because Target is a national retailer, a judgment against it could encourage other Internet merchants “not to wait for a letter from the National Federation of the Blind” before making their sites accessible, Goldstein says.

“The main thing we’re concerned about here is not addressing just Target, but the other non-compliant sites,” he says. “They’re certainly not alone-there are a number of inaccessible retail sites.”

The National Federation of the Blind, the National Federation of the Blind of California, and a visually impaired consumer on Feb. 6 filed suit against Target Corp. alleging that Target.com has thousands of access barriers that make it impossible for blind shoppers to use. The suit asks for unspecified damages and changes to make the web site accessible to the blind.

Target has declined to comment on the suit but said in a statement that it strives to make its goods and services “available to all our guests, including those with disabilities.”

In the suit, plaintiff Bruce F. Sexton alleges that Target.com prevents the blind from freely navigating the site because it isn’t designed to work with computers that have screen-reading software which vocalizes visual information on a computer screen.

Goldstein notes that information on how to make web sites accessible to the visually impaired is readily available from the World Wide Web Consortium and that many other retailers, including The Gap, already have implemented such features.

“This issue isn’t something new,” Goldstein says. “The issue is long familiar to anybody who operates as a retailer and anybody who designs web sites.”

A hearing on the suit-which was filed in the Alameda County (Calif.) Superior Court-is scheduled for March 16, Goldstein says.

 

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