Activist Lawsuit Links Target Corp. Website to ADA Requirements

Executives of bricks and mortar stores take note. In fact, anyone conducting online commerce should review Judge Marilyn Hall Patel’s opinion in the National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corp.

This is the first ruling to suggest that a retailer may be sued if its website is inaccessible to the blind. Until this ruling, commercial websites were not considered places of accommodation and were assumed to not fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Judge Patel denied a motion to dismiss the complaint. Dismissal was the outcome of the earlier Access Now vs. Southwest Airlines complaint, where the U.S. District Court ruled that “the plain and unambiguous language of the statute and relevant regulations does not include Internet websites among the definitions of `places of public accommodation´.”

Instead, Judge Patel held the web site to be a service of the stores, which are public accommodations. She proceeded to establish plaintiff classes enabling the case to become a class action. The court ruled that this exposure to ADA requirements was limited to the parts of the website which make the physical stores more useful to customers. Products or services independent of the store were excluded from the case.

“This is a tremendous step forward for blind people throughout the country who for too long have been denied equal access to the Internet economy,” said Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind. “All e-commerce businesses should take note of this decision and immediately take steps to open their doors to the blind.”

There are many good reasons to make websites accessible. However, these should not become the basis for the state to set standards for expression. While government can regulate its own agencies’ conduct, it is concerning that some would place the state in a regulatory role over files legally placed on private equipment.

While technologies such as Flash, web video, podcasts and virtual worlds may be made more accessible to disabled users today, a broad prohibition against them in commerce would have discouraged their development.

What you can do:

Article update: Target Settles ADA Case with National Federation of the Blind.

4 Responses to "Activist Lawsuit Links Target Corp. Website to ADA Requirements"

  • Chiropractor

    June 23, 2013

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  • Daniel

    October 7, 2013

    I agree. Most of the innovation and invention that comes out of this nation comes out of the private sector, not from government.

    The fact is, since this nation is rooted in the ideals of freedom to do as one sees fit so long as it does not infringe upon anothers rights to do the same, to force private business to do anything is a questionable walking of the line at best.

    The fact is, in the true ideal of this system, we the consumer make all the rules if we will just do our collective part and follow them. When a business is not doing what we desire, we stop doing business with them, and simply go to their competitor. However, if people are not willing to abide by those rules we decide upon collectively, then it won’t work, which will mean it obviously wasn’t all that important to enough of us.

    When it is important to enough of us, we’ll have businesses competing to show us how they’re doing better to comply with our wishes. But I guess even this nation is only progressed enough to taste that ideal as now we no longer embrace that ideal, but rather have decided to embrace the ideal that a central power should dictate it rather than we collectively deciding it, and as a result, freedom progressively dies.

  • Daniel

    October 7, 2013

    However, I take hope that in the future, another great society even more progressed than our own will rise up to embrace the ideal that our nation only got a taste of.

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