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Web Accessibility Suit Against U.S. Retailer Goes Forward

October 14, 2007

As reported in The Register, the website reports that a complaint against U.S. retailer Target that its website is not sufficiently accessible to physically challenged Internet users is now a class action lawsuit.

The original complaint was filed by Naional Federation of the Blind and sightless member Bruce Sexton, under the auspices of the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as the California Unruh Civil Rights Act and the California Disabled Persons Act.

The dispute holds that images on the Target site did not include substitute text on which blind persons rely, keyboard controls don't work, which means users need to work a moue, and that navigational headings helpful to blin people are missing.

The latest developments are that U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Patel of the Court for the Northern District of California ruled late last month that while Sexton's status as a class action claimant was inconsistent with ADA law, another claimant could be named in his place. She appeared to have ruled favorably on class action claims under the Calfornia statutes.


Class members "who have been deterred from shopping at Target altogether [by virtue of the inaccessibility of] have standing to proceed on their ADA claims," wrote Patel. It can also include those who incurred increased time and cost as a consequence of being unable to pre-shop. Patel noted that pre-shopping is an important aspect of in-store accessibility for blind shoppers.

In her conclusion, Judge Patel wrote:

"The nationwide class consists of all legally blind individuals in the United States who have attempted to access and as a result have been denied access to the enjoyment of goods and services offered in Target stores. The California subclass includes all legally blind individuals in California who have attempted to access, for plaintiffs’ claims arising under the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, California Civil Code … and the Disabled Persons Act, California Civil Code…"

The complete ruling can be found here.

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