Some interesting questions have been raised by a lawsuit filed by the National Association of the Blind against Target, which operates both retail stores and the target.com website. The lawsuit alleged that Target’s website, discriminated against blind users in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The lawsuit alleged that the website lacked alt-text, required the use of a mouse to complete a transaction, and contained other graphical features which prevented blind users from navigating and making full use of all of the functions of Target.com.
In Target, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California found that websites that are tightly integrated with a physical store must be accessible to the blind under the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (â€œADAâ€). The court rejected the notion that all websites are subject to the ADA, holding only that websites which are tightly integrated with a physical store must be accessible to the blind. Other courts have split on the issue, and Priceline.com and Ramada.com both chose to settle cases filed under the ADA by the Attorney General of New York. The Justice Department has taken the position that the ADA applies to the Internet.
Jeffrey Bashaw has written a nice article discussing the issue in a recent issue of the Shidler Journal of Law, Commerce & Technology.