Education and persistance change history!

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As I have previously stated here, I love to shop on line.  One of my favorites used to be eBay, but as I talked about some time ago, they have made some changes to their site that has made shopping there more difficult and tiresome for me using jaws.  But there are millions of other places to shop, and in most cases, retail stores like Wal-Mart have web sites, making it possible to shop there without having to go to the store.  In so many cases, these sites are not completely accessible and do not follow the guidelines for accessibility that are so easily available!

 

One such site is Target.com.  If you go to the above link, you can see that they are using flash media extensively and it is very difficult for users of most assistive technologies to navigate effectively here.  Two years ago, after many blind users complained, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) filed a class action suit against Target.  This was the first suit of its kind and there was heated debating on both sides of the issue.  Does Target.com’s inaccessibility violate the American’s Wwith Disibilities Act?  Some said that an inaccessible web site is not unlike refusing to install wheelchair ramps in a public location.  Of course we know that barriers to those with disabilities are no longer simply physical.  With technology becoming an integral part of life for everyone, the disabled members of society have every right to access the same information, services and goods via the web,

thus the emergence of Section 508.  Some even wanted all disabled people to boycott Target, unless or until they chose to pay attention and acknowledge their disabled shoppers!

 

After a very long battle, this week a resolution was announced.  There is still a lot of debating over whether or not we should celebrate the court’s decision.  Here are my pennies worth.  I believe that this is a very important and positive outcome for accessibility!  Whether or not they will try to find loopholes in the settlement, or that only blind computer users are mentioned, the fact is that something is being done.  They are talking, being educated, being made aware of the need for accessibility!  If a multibillion dollar business like Target is working on this, then in my always very humble opinion, it will only be the beginning!  Not only will Target’s competitors most likely jump in, but the bar will be raised to all other retail websites.  Will this fix everything?  No, but at least we’re making progress, and with the NFB and Jim Thatcher watching, Target will no doubt become the first fully accessible retail website on the net!

Read more on Glenda’s blog, where there is a wealth of information on this and other relevant topics.

 

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