Recent news about The National Federation of the Blind suing Target Corp. is another example of how important Usability and Accessibility have become in designing a website. The company was sued on the grounds that the giant retail chain discriminates because its Web site is inaccessible to blind customers. Here’s an excerpt from the news on NBC11.com:
Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said that blind people gain access to the Internet by using keyboards along with special software that translates visual information into spoken words.
The lawsuit alleges that Target’s Web site, Target.com, fails to include features such as an invisible code embedded beneath images that would enable blind customers to use the screen-reading software.
Not only is it important to make the website accessible, its also important to ensure you don’t ‘over-optimize’ the website by stuffing keywords in alt text instead of explaing the image itself.
Target Corp is not the first to get sued over inaccessibility.
In 1999, the National Federation of the Blind filed a lawsuit against AOL because AOL’s Internet services were inaccessible.
In 2002, Access Now Inc and Robert Gumson sued Southwest and American airlines because Southwest’s site is allegedly inaccessible. It would be an interesting assignment to put together a list of such cases and the verdict on them.