Thursday, October 05, 2006 is off-target in usability lawsuit

Testing website usability legally ...

Web site usability became a court issue on September 6, 2006 when Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, a federal district court judge in Berkeley, Cal., ruled that the National Federation of the Blind can sue Minneapolis-based Target Corporation in a class action because their Web site ( is not accessible to the blind.

"In a typical corporate reaction," says Judy Colbert, Web Site Usability Mentor. "Target's reported response was that there's no law requiring them to make its site accessible. If they pursue this line of thinking, they're going to cause legislation to be enacted that will require it. Businesses across the county should tell Target that they should be eagerly complying with the intent of the Americans with Disability Act and other local legislation and regulations. Federal regulation 508 calls for all information created for the public by federal agencies has to be accessible. If only by inference that includes information on their Web sites.

"It is so much easier just to make a site accessible," says Colbert. This includes easy conversion to text and alt tags and even descriptive text on all graphics. And, if it is done as the site is being built, it does not have to add much cost. A software program such as DreamWeaver includes the option to insert alt tags and has to be disabled for a Web site designer to not use it.

"Target apparently thinks it's going to cost a bundle of money to update their site. If done while the site is under construction, or as each page is added or updated, it should, at the most, add maybe ten percent to the cost and the time it takes to build the site. In fact, if making a site more accessible means fewer graphics and special effects, the design and construction could cost considerably less."    (Continued via newsreleasewire)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I'm very much in favor of accessibility for all people, I do not see has using ALT tags for images will help the blind user. This is still a visual representation.

What would be needed is text-to-speach conversion tools. I think the vast majority commerical websites today would fail to make the cut.

Instead for focusing on what Target has done or not done, this discussion should be brought up to a much higher level of discussion about industry standards.

8:44 AM  

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