Target settles blind access lawsuit

August 28, 2008 3:01:40 PM PDT
The National Federation of the Blind and Target Corp. today announced a settlement of a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco over blind customers' access to the retail chain's Web site.

The lawsuit filed by the federation in 2006 alleged that Minneapolis-based Target, the nation's fifth largest retailer, violated federal and state laws by failing to make its Web site, Target.com, accessible to legally blind people.

The settlement provides for continued improvement in access, three years of monitoring by the federation and $6 million in compensation for several thousand blind customers in California.

Representatives of both the Baltimore-based federation and Target said the company had already improved Web site access through technology such as screen readers after the lawsuit was filed.

President Marc Maurer said, "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 Web site is accessible to everyone."

Target.com President Steve Eastman said, "As our online business has evolved, we have made significant enhancements in order to provide an accessible shopping service."

Eastman said, "We will work with the National Federation of the Blind on further refinements to our Web site."

The settlement won't be final until U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel holds a fairness hearing and grants final approval. The hearing has not yet been scheduled.

In a key ruling in the case in 2006, Patel said the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which bans discrimination in public accommodations, applies to related services such as Web sites as well as physical facilities such as stores.

The settlement provides that Target will ensure that "blind guests using screen-reader software may acquire the same information and engage in the same transactions as are available to sighted guests with substantially equivalent ease of use."

Target, which describes itself as an "upscale discounter," has 1,648 stores in 47 states, including 230 in California.


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