by Chris Danielsen
From the Editor: For years now we have been battling to ensure that blind people who use access technology can use Websites. Many retailers have argued that the Americans with Disabilities Act protects only disabled people’s right to actual places of business or commerce, not a Website in cyberspace. This is merely one of no doubt many issues that the NFB has been arguing in the courts with Target, one of the country’s most influential retailers, with a huge online presence. Target has 1,648 stores in forty-seven states.
On August 27, 2008, Chris Danielsen, NFB public relations specialist, wrote the following press release. It tells as much of the story as can be announced publicly. Here it is:
The National Federation of the Blind and Target announced today that they have settled a class action lawsuit regarding access to the Target.com Website by blind people.
Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Access to Websites is critical to the full and equal participation of blind people in all aspects of modern life. The National Federation of the Blind is pleased to have reached a settlement with Target that is good for all blind consumers, and we recognize that Target has already taken action to make certain that its Website is accessible to everyone. We look forward to working with Target in the coming months to help make additional improvements that will enhance the experience of blind visitors to Target.com. It is our sincere hope that other businesses providing goods and services over the Internet will follow Target’s example and take affirmative steps to provide full access to their Websites by blind consumers.”
Bruce Sexton Jr., a named plaintiff in the case from the beginning, added: "This settlement marks a new chapter in making Websites accessible to the blind. I commend Target for committing to being a leader in online accessibility."
Steve Eastman, president of Target.com, said: “First and foremost, Target is committed to serving all our guests. As our online business has evolved, we have made significant enhancements in order to provide an accessible shopping experience. We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the National Federation of the Blind regarding the accessibility of Target.com for individuals who use assistive technologies and will work with the NFB on further refinements to our Website.”
As part of the settlement, Target will establish a $6 million fund from which members of the California settlement class can make claims. In addition, the National Federation of the Blind will certify the Target Website through its Nonvisual Accessibility Web Certification program once agreed upon improvements are completed in early 2009. Target and NFB have agreed to a three-year relationship during which the NFB will perform accessibility testing of the Target Website. For more information about the terms of the settlement, please visit <www.nfbtargetlawsuit.com>.