Thursday, February 09, 2006

National Federation Of The Blind take on Target

The National Federation of the Blind have brought a lawsuit against Target Corp. over accessibility issues involving their web site.

They are seeking to have the case certified as a class action suit on behalf of all blind Californians who want to use the site.

I used an accessibility validator to check the Target site and see what types of things make it inaccessible. The major problems seem to be a lack of alt text for a large number of spacer images - which are supposed to help in the layout of the design of the web site, and the use of tables to present a layout.

I also checked the pages, and am happy to say that except for a couple of minor issues which we will look into, we do ok.

I hope that this lawsuit will convince web site owners to take a closer look at their own sites, and see what they can do to make their pages easier to use for all visitors.

Keep in mind that when you fail to provide alt text - even an empty alt text attribute for an image, that a screen reader will read the URL of the image, letter by letter, like this: h-t-t-p-:-/-/-w-w-w-.-e-x-a-m-p-l-e-.-c-o-m-/-i-m-a-g-e-s-/-p-i-c-t-u-r-e-.-g-i-f

Now imagine a page filled with 150 or so small images used to layout the design of a site. To use the site with a screen reader, you would have to listen to the spelling of those spacer images over and over and over. Like on the Target site...

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