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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    Target.com lawsuit gets the green light!

    Just found this update on the target.com lawsuit

    http://www.nfb.org/nfb/NewsBot.asp?M...SnID=747376771

    Thoughts anyone?

    background information: target.com refused to make their site accessible to blind users.

  2. #2
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Well they are discriminating against blind people and blind people are the ones most likely to need to buy from them online rather than going into the store to make their purchases.
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  3. #3
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    I think target should just settle the case.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict jessebhunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    Well they are discriminating against blind people and blind people are the ones most likely to need to buy from them online rather than going into the store to make their purchases.
    Sorry ... but I'm going to have to respectfully disagree.

    I know this has been hashed out in the SitePoint Forums many times, but ...

    Suing a company over their website's accessibility, in my opinion, is absurd. If Target doesn't want to go to the expense of making their website accessible, they shouldn't be forced to. They simply won't receive business from the segment of the market which is unable to use their site. If government would stay out of the way, the free market will take care of itself.

    It's not discrimination that they didn't make their website more accessible. It was a busines decision not spend the time, money, or whatever other motivating factors. I'd be willing to bet the business minds at Target didn't sit around and say "Let's make our website less accessible because we hate blind people!"

    In my opinion, "discrimination" is a term that's thrown around anytime someone doesn't get their way. The misuse of the term is nearly as bad as the fact that everyone wants to sue someone anytime they don't get their way.
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  5. #5
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    There are anti-discrimination laws that relate to discrimination against the disabled that require buildings to have wheelchair ramps installed etc whether the business wants to or not. A model railway club I belong to had to install a way for disabled people to get upstairs even though there are no disabled members who needed it because the law requires that disabled people be catered for.

    Doscrimination is defined by LAW and is not just where someone doesn't get their own way. If you don't like it then change the law.

    The case against Target would not have been given the go-ahead unless it had been demonstrated that there was at least the possibility that they had broken the law.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    The case against Target would not have been given the go-ahead unless it had been demonstrated that there was at least the possibility that they had broken the law.
    Just a minor detail: Reading the statement on the NFB website, the wording is slightly misleading. The Ninth Circuit didn't "give a go-ahead" to the case so much as it "refused to stop" the case (or at least refused to drastically change the nature of the case, depending on whether the interlocutory appeal was based on assumed immunity, jurisdiction, or prejudicial factors).

    I'm just taking a guess here, but Target was probably trying to keep the case from becoming a class-action suit (based on how the NFB statement is worded).
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  7. #7
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    Isn't this really a CIVIL lawsuit and not a CRIMINAL one? Doesn't that mean the definition of "discrimination" by law is really not an issue?

    Stephen => "...blind people are the ones most likely to need to buy from them online... " sounds like quite a DISCRIMINATORY statement*. Having experience with the blind, they are quite proud of their abilities to get around and do things in spite of blindness (which, by the way, does not mean complete inability to see at all)

    I agree with JesseBHunt that, in the US, there are far too many "groups" who want to sue because they did not get what they want. [Life is tough. We all need to adjust. Let's agree that we all have various disabilities and barriers]
    As a very tall person I have been forced to serious inconvenience using payphones, paper towel dispensers, lightswitches, and so many things that are mounted lower to accomodate those with disabilities.
    I acknowledge that it is important to reduce barriers to the disabled (and I have a lot of personal experience with the disabled population). But, from a logical perspective, it is silly to inconvenience 90&#37; of the population to accomodate the other 10%.
    Isn't that like writing HTML/CSS for Internet Explorer only and saying, "Tough luck if you are not using IE"?

    *Don't misundertand this statement. No disrespect intended.
    Last edited by ParkinT; Mar 3, 2008 at 07:52. Reason: My comment to FelGal sounded inflamatory and was not intended that way
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  8. #8
    SitePoint Addict Sgt. Baboon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    There are anti-discrimination laws that relate to discrimination against the disabled that require buildings to have wheelchair ramps installed etc whether the business wants to or not. A model railway club I belong to had to install a way for disabled people to get upstairs even though there are no disabled members who needed it because the law requires that disabled people be catered for.

    Doscrimination is defined by LAW and is not just where someone doesn't get their own way. If you don't like it then change the law.

    The case against Target would not have been given the go-ahead unless it had been demonstrated that there was at least the possibility that they had broken the law.
    Difference IMO is that a business website is optional, whereas access to the building is not. So can people sue companies that choose not to have a website at all?

  9. #9
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ParkinT View Post
    Isn't this really a CIVIL lawsuit and not a CRIMINAL one? Doesn't that mean the definition of "discrimination" by law is really not an issue?
    It's a civil lawsuit which is governed by civil (tort) law. It's very much about a legal issue as defined by federal or state law. In this case, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) which is codified in 42 U.S.C. 12101.
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  10. #10
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sgt. Baboon View Post
    Difference IMO is that a business website is optional, whereas access to the building is not. So can people sue companies that choose not to have a website at all?
    Having a building is also optional. There are some companies that only sell over the web. Where a company chooses to have a building or a web site or both then they are required to make it accessible. Obviously if they choose to not have one or the other then the one that they don't have is equally accessible to everyone and discrimination doesn't apply.
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  11. #11
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    Disabled people are not catered to, they are accommodated. There are exceptions in the law for older buildings and small businesses so they don't have to make major costly renovations.

    Target is being stupid, it isn't majorly different or expensive to code accessability into a website.

    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    There are anti-discrimination laws that relate to discrimination against the disabled that require buildings to have wheelchair ramps installed etc whether the business wants to or not. A model railway club I belong to had to install a way for disabled people to get upstairs even though there are no disabled members who needed it because the law requires that disabled people be catered for.

    Doscrimination is defined by LAW and is not just where someone doesn't get their own way. If you don't like it then change the law.

    The case against Target would not have been given the go-ahead unless it had been demonstrated that there was at least the possibility that they had broken the law.

  12. #12
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    One word: unfortunate.

    It's unfortunate for the group that they have to sue. It's also unfortunate for
    Target there's a law dealing with disability and a group is holding them liable.

    It's yet also unfortunate for the judge who's handling this.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Addict Sgt. Baboon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    Having a building is also optional. There are some companies that only sell over the web. Where a company chooses to have a building or a web site or both then they are required to make it accessible. Obviously if they choose to not have one or the other then the one that they don't have is equally accessible to everyone and discrimination doesn't apply.
    Ok, I'll accept that. But what about mail order? Why do they not have to have braille? What about infomercials or shopping networks?

    I am not against accessibility at all. I just wonder why websites have become such a target.

  14. #14
    chown linux:users\ /world Hartmann's Avatar
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    I am not sure anyone who has posted is a lawyer and I'll start this post by stating the same thing, I am not a lawyer.

    This is not a question of legality, it's a question of physical or emotional harm done to the victim of the case (in this instance it's the blind). The standard of proof in these cases is much easier to satisfy compared to the "without a reasonable doubt" standard in a criminal case.

    I do think that certain sites need to be accessible but the precedent that this case creates may become very bad news for other online sites. Just think, are bloggers going to have to create accessible sites? How are they going to handle being sued?

  15. #15
    SitePoint Enthusiast EvilDog's Avatar
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    The only thing that Target is guilty of is having deep pockets. Why isn't this class action targeting (no pun intended) a small mom and pop website that sells booties for your horse? The reason is that like most class action law suits, it's not really about the group more than it is about a bunch of lawyers making a quick buck.

    Some years ago I found out that I was included as one of the plaintiffs in a class action suit that was supposedly done on my behalf by a group of "concerned lawyers" out to protect the consumer. I only knew about it when I received a check in the mail that was my share of the proceeds as a result of the settlement. The bizarre thing is that the check was for 18cents! Yes, that is $0.18 in U.S. currency. I never cashed the check because I keep it as proof to anyone who doubts my story.

    The long and the short of it is that the court systems in the U.S. are more than clogged up with cases that are brought by lawyers for the benefit of lawyers. If the blind plaintiffs are victorious in this suit, I would love to see how much compensation that they actually are awarded, that is not the total settlement but how much of the remainder gets divided per person.

    Now, if this thing does actually go in favor of the blind group, I think that this would be a huge disaster for the internet as a whole. The ramifications are that no website would be safe from these profiteering attorneys and their continued plundering off the work of others.

    At what point do you force a website to make their sites completely accessible to people who are defined as having a disability? Do you make them also require use of simpler phrases and shorter words so those with learning disabilities can more easily read them? Do you force sites to be more sensitive to people who are over weight by banning certain phrases or words such as fat or obese? How about forcing all sites to have alternative language versions for those who don't speak or read whatever language the site happens to be written in? Or even better yet, let's scrap all coding that uses CSS, Javascript, and up to date HTML coding techniques so that those poor unfortunate souls that are still running Windows 3.1 and Chamelion 1.0 will be able to view your website. Oops! That won't work! Cuz Chamelion 1.0 is so old that it doesn't have the ability to interpret the alternative content intended for the blind, deaf, mentally deficient, ugly, or otherwise disabled as the government currently defines them!

    If Target loses this case or you still think that they should somehow should be forced (either through litigation or by law) to modify their site to accommodate the blind, be careful what you wish for because this is a very slippery slope that we would be heading down should this actually become precedent setting.

    As for me, I am also against such actions as most of my website customers are car dealers, tactical gear and gun shops, and one guy who sells RC model airplanes. I, for the life of me, cannot see any reason why my sites should be forced to offer any access to the blind as there is nothing in them that they would even be able to make use of in the first place, that is unless you are suggesting that car and gun manufacturers . . . no, don't even go there . . .
    Last edited by EvilDog; Mar 7, 2008 at 06:43. Reason: typo

  16. #16
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    This brings up an interesting point:

    If Target loses, will it actually change anything? Will this set a precedent for enforcement or expanded interpretation of the law? Or will it just be a cash settlement?
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  17. #17
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilDog View Post
    Why isn't this class action targeting (no pun intended) a small mom and pop website that sells booties for your horse?
    Perhaps there are not any disabled people trying to buy booties for their horse and so they don't visit that site in order to discover that they can't use it. When they do need booties for their horse then they will take action against that site if it doesn't work for them. I would think that the action against Target is because there are people who want to buy from them online and can't do so because the site doesn't cater for them and the anti-discrimination laws give them a basis for taking the action that they are taking. This is a lot more justifiable than many of the court cases in the US and would probably be equally likely to occur in other countries where discriminating against minority groups is illegal. In any case the action is being taken because Target was asked to make their site more accessible to these people and refused to do so, there have been attempts made to get this fixed without involving the courts.

    My understanding of a class action is that when a big enough percentage of the group of people potentially affected by a particular court case actually request to participate that the action is extended to include the rest of the group so as not to discriminate against those who for one reason or another failed to hear about it.

    The 18 cents was probably a settlement for several thousand dollars each less legal fees.
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