September 30, 2008, 12:00 AM gets on target with access for the blind

The National Federation for the Blind has a new partner in Target Corp., which has settled a two-year lawsuit related to making more accessible to blind people. Target will establish a $6 million settlement fund and submit to an accessibility certification program.

The National Federation of the Blind has a new partner in Target Corp. The multi-channel mass merchant has settled a two-year lawsuit brought by the federation under federal and state laws that require retailers to make web sites accessible to disabled people.

The federation had pursued charges that Target had “failed and refused” to make its web site accessible to blind people and thus violated the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as two California civil rights statutes: the California Unruh Civil Rights Act and the California Disabled Persons Act.

The accessibility problem involved’s lack of compliant alt-text, a code embedded beneath graphic images that enables screen-reading technology to detect and vocalize description of images, according to the lawsuit. The site also failed to offer blind people a way to complete an online purchase without having to use a mouse, the federation had complained.

Target will establish a $6 million settlement fund from which litigants in the California lawsuit can make claims. The federation will certify through a non-visual accessibility web certification program once planned improvements are completed in early 2009.

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