The Web Standards Project » Legal Working together for standards Fri, 01 Mar 2013 18:30:30 +0000 en hourly 1 BSI British Standards invites comments on new draft standard on accessible web content Mon, 01 Dec 2008 22:39:34 +0000 plauke

BSI British Standards is inviting all interested parties, and in particular marketing professionals and disabled web users, to review and comment on the draft of a new standard on accessible web content. DPC BS 8878 Web accessibility – Building accessible experiences for disabled people – Code of Practice is applicable to all public and private organizations wishing to offer accessible, usable web content to their customers. [...]

Based on PAS 78: 2006, Guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites, DPC BS 8878 informs organizations of their legal responsibilities in relation to web accessibility, calling on them to appoint a specific person or department to oversee activity. [...]

Julie Howell, Chair of the committee responsible for drafting DPC BS 8878, commented, “Once published, this standard will be a fantastic tool for organizations wishing to understand their responsibilities in enabling disabled people to use web content. DPC BS 8878 encourages the enhancement of the overall user experience – a much more holistic approach than we have seen previously and one that I hope will yield exciting results. Right now we want to encourage as many people as possible to read and comment on the draft standard to ensure it is as relevant as possible.”

Read the full media release: BSI British Standards invites comments on new draft standard on accessible web content.

WaSP Accessibility Task Force co-leads Bruce Lawson (Opera Software) and Patrick H. Lauke (University of Salford) — who have been jointly representing their employing organisations and the Web Standards Project itself on the committee responsible for drafting the standard on behalf of BSI — would like to encourage feedback on DPC BS 8878 through the BSI British Standards Draft Review system.

Deadline for review is the 31 January 2009. Publication of BS 8878 is expected in summer 2009.


The draft is now also available for download in PDF and Word format.

See also:

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What the Target settlement should mean to you Thu, 28 Aug 2008 17:54:11 +0000 mattmay It’s a question many of us in accessibility have been waiting for years to be answered.

Does the Americans with Disabilities Act apply to the web?

Sadly, accessibility’s ultimate cliffhanger once again reaches an awkward denouement, leaving us deflated, and looking at yet another boring sequel. The National Federation of the Blind v. Target lawsuit, which promised to be a landmark case in determining the applicability of the ADA, was settled on Wednesday. The key provisions of the settlement have Target paying $6 million in damages to the members of the class action (which consists of legally blind people who have been denied Target’s online services), and agreeing to remove accessibility barriers to blind users by February of 2009.

As with most settlements, however, Target admits no wrongdoing, and so the ADA’s applicability to the web remains fuzzy. (Especially to a non-lawyer such as myself; please don’t consider this as anything like legal advice.) The legal ramifications of this case may not be as clear-cut as some of us would have liked, but it’d be hard to argue that after this decision people with disabilities are in any way on shakier legal ground.

One twist in this case was the application of two California laws: the Disabled Persons Act and the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Both of these offer protections over and above those of the ADA, for California citizens, such as the named plaintiff, Bruce Sexton. Even if we ignore the ADA for a moment, this means that sites who do business in California could be liable under these laws for denying access.

Whatever the legal ramifications may be, those of us who advocate accessibility don’t want to make this into a series of legal battles. There are no winners there. (Okay, besides the lawyers.) We want people to realize that engaging with people with disabilities well before the threat of legal action arises is always the best approach. When a company stalls and takes a case to court, delays, public relations nightmares, and skyrocketing costs are all that happens. In this case, Target will pay out well over $6 million in damages, when one-tenth–maybe even a hundredth–of that amount could have paid a dream team of accessibility-savvy designers ready to solve the actual issues at hand.

The question that’s on our minds today–whether ADA applies or not–ultimately doesn’t make much difference. In fact, it’s a major distraction from the heart of the matter. People of all kinds want to participate in all the activities the web has to offer. And many disability advocacy groups are reaching out to site admins to raise awareness of the barriers they face. The best thing you can do is to prepare yourself and your site with a little education and some fine tuning. When you’re in a lawyer’s office talking about the ADA, or any other accessibility statute, chances are you’ve already missed out on the most important part of the conversation. And that’s going to cost you, whether you win or lose.

Update: This post has been translated into Polish.

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Opera complains to Europe over IE lock-in Thu, 13 Dec 2007 20:34:30 +0000 blawson Opera Chief Technology Officer and co-inventor of CSS, Håkon Wium Lie has written an open letter to the Web community explaining the reasons that Opera has filed an antitrust complaint with the European Union to force Microsoft to support open Web standards in Internet Explorer and to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop.

Their press release says

Opera requests the Commission to implement two remedies to Microsoft’s abusive actions. First, it requests the Commission to obligate Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop. Second, it asks the European Commission to require Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities. The complaint calls on Microsoft to adhere to its own public pronouncements to support these standards, instead of stifling them with its notorious “Embrace, Extend and Extinguish” strategy. Microsoft’s unilateral control over standards in some markets creates a de facto standard that is more costly to support, harder to maintain, and technologically inferior and that can even expose users to security risks.

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Will Target get schooled? Fri, 05 Oct 2007 06:10:28 +0000 agustafson In February of 2006, the National Federation of the Blind took legal action against Target for having an inaccessible website. A month later the case after it went to federal court (at Target’s request), and in September, the NFB began pushing for class action certification after Target failed to get the case thrown out.

For nearly a year, it’s been very quiet, but Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, has just granted class-action status to the lawsuit, meaning every blind person in the U.S. who has tried to access can become a plaintiff. The judge also created a separate class in the suit for blind residents of California, as the site’s inaccessibility may break not only federal law, but state law as well.

As Derek and Matt have noted, this could be a landmark case for web accessibility in the U.S. Of particular note (in my mind, at least) is that Target has modified its website (albeit not a whole lot) since the suit was originally filed, hoping to get the suit dropped or dismissed, but Judge Patel did not acquiesce.

You can read more about the order from the Associated Press, PC World, and Ars Technica.

This post has been translated into Polish.

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A review of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, May 2007 Working Draft Mon, 11 Jun 2007 13:39:45 +0000 plauke In last month’s Interview with Judy Brewer on WCAG 2.0, we read that:

WCAG 2.0 went through several Public Working Drafts in recent years, and a Last Call Working Draft in 2006. Each Working Draft was sent out for public review — altogether to hundreds of individuals, organizations, and lists around the world where people had expressed interest. You’ll see the results of these comments in an updated Public Working Draft in the next month.

It’s been over a year since the request for review on the Last Call Working Draft of WCAG 2.0 (April 2006) originally went out. Many readers will remember the general level of dissatisfaction, or just plain bewilderment, that it provoked. So, has the latest version — Public Working Draft of WCAG 2.0 (May 2007) — taken on board the comments and criticisms that were raised?

Note: this article only looks at the differences between the previous and the current working draft of the guidelines. It is not meant as an introduction to WCAG 2.0, nor as an analysis of how it differs from WCAG 1.0.

Process, structure and language

In a very welcome move towards clarity and transparency of process, the WCAG working group has published its Summary of Issues, Revisions, and Rationales for Changes to WCAG 2.0 2006 Last Call Draft. This is an excellent starting point for evaluating how work on the guidelines has progressed over the last year, and most importantly why certain decisions, which are reflected in the latest version, were taken.

It’s worth noting first of all that the working group seems to have realised that there’s still work to be done on these guidelines, and has therefore “demoted” them from “Last Call Working Draft” to just “Working Draft”.

It’s clear that the guidelines have undergone quite a bit of reorganisation and editing. Many elements that were present in the previous version have been removed or split out to separate documents. The internal structure of the document has also been streamlined — all the conformance information has now been moved to the end of the document, meaning that readers get to the actual guidelines and success criteria much quicker.

Purely from a layout point of view, the guidelines and success criteria themselves are far easier to skim read. Each SC is denoted by a short term or sentence that signals what it applies to (for instance Use of Color). Though, at their core, most guidelines and success criteria remain unchanged, their wording has been revised to make them more immediately understandable, aided in no small part by the fact that all the bizarre new terminology of the previous document (Web Unit, Authored Unit, Authored Component, etc) has been removed in favour of clear, simple, and commonly used words.


One of the big points of contention of WCAG 2.0 was the newly introduced concept of baselines. Although the intention behind the concept certainly had a lot of merit, many reviewers felt that it was ripe for abuse by developers and site owners. The latest draft ditches baselines, but reformulates the underlying idea in terms of choosing technologies that are accessibility supported. Rather than saying “users must have user agents and assistive technology that can deal with these technologies we’ve chosen”, the onus is now more explicitly on developers to ensure that the technologies they’ve chosen are in fact known to be supported. The concept is the same, but it’s been turned around far more explicitly in favour of the users, and it’s far less likely to be misinterpreted (maliciously or not) by developers.

Cognitive disabilities

The previous version came under criticisism for failing to adequately address the needs of users with cognitive and learning difficulties. Although the situation still isn’t much better in the new version, this is at least aknowledged in the introduction.

Although some of the accessibility issues of people with cognitive, language, and learning disabilities are addressed by WCAG 2.0, either directly or through assistive technologies, the WCAG 2.0 guidelines do not address many areas of need for people with these disabilities. There is a need for more research and development in this important area.

The introduction is also quite realistic in stating that:

These guidelines [...] are not able to address the needs of all people with disabilities.

Levels and conformance

A holdover from WCAG 1.0, the new version finally does away with the unnecessary dual system for categorising conformance levels (A, AA, AAA) and individual success criteria levels (1, 2, 3), adopting the former for SCs as well. The definitions for these three conformance levels have also been rewritten and expanded. Rather than simply stating that one level achieves a minimum level of accessibility while another results in an enhanced level of accessibility, as was the case in the previous version, these definitions now focus on the impact that a certain level has on end users. The definitions further aknowledge that conformance with a certain level may require certain aspects of a web page’s visual presentation and content to be changed or adapted.

In a note on conformance, the previous version stated that:

Because not all level 3 success criteria can be used with all types of content, Triple-A conformance only requires conformance to a portion of level 3 success criteria.

The new version reverts back to the original WCAG 1.0 model, requiring all AAA success criteria to be fulfilled in order to claim conformance to that particular level. However, it concedes that the AAA criteria place tighter limits on both presentation and content, which means that some types of content may not be able to satisfy this level of conformance (emphasis added).

The guidelines still attempt to make the point that, despite the use of the word levels, there is no implication about the relative importance of success criteria. However, this passage from Gez Lemon’s article WCAG 2: The difference between a level and a priority (posted in January last year, in reference to the pre-Last Call version) still rings true:

For any given level, all success criteria for that level, and the success criteria for all levels below, must be met before a conformance claim can be made. Therefore, each level is inferred a level of importance; otherwise, they would all be considered equally important, and ranked only as to whether or not they can reasonably be applied to all web resources.

It may be that the only way around this conundrum is for the guidelines to accept that, by their very nature, levels imply a hierarchy, and that in most cases authors will focus on fixing any major bloopers (failures of level A success criteria) first, as they are more important in order to make a site more accessible to a potentially larger percentage of visitors, before going on to the higher levels (particularly if, by admission of the guidelines themselves, these levels may actually have an impact on the overall design of a web page).


Still on the subject of conformance, the explicit section on the Scoping of conformance claims — with its ill advised example A site has a collection of videos for which it is not required to and does not want to claim accessibility which seemed in direct contradiction to the preceding line Scoping cannot exclude a particular type of content (for example, images or scripts) since it would allow exclusion of individual success criteria — has disappeared. There are still references to a site’s ability to specify which URIs a conformance claim applies to (and, by inference, which URIs are effectively out of scope) and the possibility of excluding certain web pages or sections with a Statement of partial conformance, particularly when dealing with user contributed content and aggregation. The loophole is still there, but it’s not served on a silver platter to the casual reader.

Accessible alternatives

Speaking of loopholes, Guideline 4.2 – Ensure that content is accessible or provide an accessible alternative is gone from the latest version. Nonetheless, the concept of alternative versions is still found in the Conformance Requirements section. As with the previous point, it’s an improvement not to have an explicit guideline that sanctions a perceived “easy way out”, as was the case in WCAG 1.0 — although, in fairness, even then checkpoint 11.4 clearly stated If, after best efforts, you cannot create an accessible page, provide a link to an alternative page (emphasis added). The editorial note in WCAG 2.0 relating to this part of the Conformance Requirements does explicitly elicit further suggestions and comments on the whole alternative content issue, as the working group recognises that, in its current form, it may not be ideal.


One final point to note is that, despite much uproar about this in the previous version, validity (the requirement to create web pages that, to use WCAG 1.0 parlance, validate to published formal grammars) is still out. Reading the summary of changes, the rationale for this move is explained as follows:

The working group looked at this topic carefully over an extended period of time and concluded that requiring strict adherence to all aspects of specifications does not necessarily result in an increase in accessibility. For example, it is possible to create invalid pages that present no accessibility barriers. It is also possible in certain situations to enhance accessibility through the use of markup that is not part of the specification.


The working group must work within its charter and only include things that directly affected accessibility. Some aspects of use technologies according to specification and validity do relate to accessibility. However, others do not. So requiring validity would take us beyond our charter.

Although the working group cannot require validity, it recommends it and it is our #1 sufficient technique listed for conforming to SC 4.1.1.

There is no doubt that the final decision was, at least in part, politically motivated (and pushed through) by certain influential members of the working group. Personally, I would have loved to see validity enshrined in the normative guidelines, rather than just in the informative techniques documentation … yet the pragmatist in me aknowledges that the guideline isn’t all that bad, requiring well-formedness and adherence to a language’s general syntax rules — albeit in a very clumsy fashion, by way of elements with complete start and end tags and nested according to their specifications. The wording is certainly an improvement over the vague requirements for Web units or authored components to be parsed unambiguously.


There are many more aspects of the guidelines that have changed since last year’s version — I’d strongly recommend that interested readers go through the summary of changes and compare the last two versions of the guidelines side by side. Overall, things may still not be perfect, but this latest draft can, without a dobut, be seen as a marked improvement. Though it will still be a while before we see WCAG 2.0 become a stable and official W3C Recommendation, the signs are good that it’s on course and heading in the right direction. Have a look for yourself, and make sure you send your comments and suggestions on the current version of WCAG 2.0 to the working group by 29 June 2007.

Addendum on techniques and community involvement

This short article only concentrates on the core guidelines document itself, as this is the only normative document in the WCAG 2.0 suite. Once developers get down to implementing the new guidelines, they’ll mostly be referring to the Techniques for WCAG 2.0 (by way of the WCAG 2.0 Quick Reference) … and those are admittedly in a less than optimal state at present. We’ll be posting more on this soon, but it’s worth reiterating that the techniques are only informative. The intention of WAI is to update these regularly (around once a year) to reflect current best practices, based on material submitted by the developer community — a process that WaSP, working closely with the WCAG WG, will be actively involved in.

Further reading

Documents and articles relating to the previous version of the guidelines:

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Target sighted – a hit but not quite a bullseye Thu, 14 Sep 2006 14:13:43 +0000 lloydi In the accessibility world, a lot of us curmudgeons bemoan that fact that despite the various different pieces of legislation and the guidelines around web accessibility, there are very few examples of any company or organisation ever really being punished for not complying. Sure, there was the Sydney Olympics case and there was the … uh. Um. You get my point – you could cut off a few fingers on one of my hands and I’d still have enough left to count all the cases that have resulted in any kind of prosecution. We have been saying for years that if you mess up on accessibility you could be sued, but the longer it doesn’t happen, the more people will think we’re just ‘crying wolf’.

I certainly don’t want companies to be unfairly vicitimised or for individuals in these companies to be picked out for criticism just to prove a point, but likewise the legislation is there for a reason. One company has just found that, in the US at least, the legislation may yet have an effect – in California, the case has entered a new stage. In this case, the plaintiff is ‘all blind Americans’ – it’s a class action with Bruce Sexton, a college student, the NFB (National Federation of the Blind) and NFB California as named plaintiffs – and the case has resurfaced because Target’s request for the case to be thrown out has been rejected.

The NFB’s press release suggests a victory for the plaintiffs, but it’s not a decisive victory:

Explaining the ramification of the ruling, Mazen M. Basrawi, Equal Justice Works Fellow at Disability Rights Advocates, noted that: “the court clarified that the law requires that any place of public accommodation is required to ensure that it does not discriminate when it uses the internet as a means to enhance the services it offers at a physical location.”

It doesn’t say “the ADA must include web sites” but rather (paraphrasing here) “it should not exclude outlets other than the physical premises”. This is a bit more woolly than the press release might have you believe.

So, the case is not over yet. Target may not have had it thrown out as they had wanted, but they have not yet lost the battle overall. In fact, Joe Clark has suggested that they may yet even win the case. Regardless of which way the case ultimately goes, there is a precedent of sorts here, as Jared Smith states on WebAim:

While this is not a final ruling on the suit, but only a ruling on the motion to dismiss the case, it does set a strong precedence that online stores are covered by civil rights laws.

Further reading

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All aboard the PAS 78 gravy train Fri, 12 May 2006 01:22:35 +0000 plauke With the extensive media coverage following its launch, a large number of businesses, education establishments and government agencies with a stake in the UK online market should be aware of PAS 78 – Guide to Good Practice in Commissioning Accessible Websites. Partly due to the cost associated with this document, though, they may not have actually read through it…which is probably what the PR office of BrowseAloud are counting on – otherwise it would be blatantly obvious to any reader that this little news item on the BrowseAloud site, issued two weeks after the official launch of the PAS, is somewhat stretching the truth:

Texthelp is recommended in PAS 78 for their text-to-speech software product Browsealoud, that addresses those with Cognitive & Learning Difficulties.

Now, try as I might I cannot find any particular endorsement or recommendation of their product in the PAS – and rightly so, as it’s meant to be a fairly neutral, non-vendor specific document. There is only one passing mention of Texthelp (developers of BrowseAloud) in “Annex A (informative) – Suggested user profiles” under the “Cognitive and learning” section (page 36):

Users with medium dyslexia, eg users who might change site colours and text formatting, and who in many cases might supplement this with text to speech software for reading sections of text (such as TextHelp).

So, is this going to be the new trend for marketing accessibility products and services in the UK for the coming years? Boosting one’s credibility by making references to the PAS, even going as far as claiming a recommendation? Well, I guess it’s a bit more respectable than planting fake users such as Dyslexic Duncan on forums to extoll the virtues of your product…

Incidentally, on both occasions I’ve contacted BrowseAloud for an official response…but to no avail.

And while we’re on the topic, a word of advice to web design agencies: you can stop amending your lists of services to include “websites that are PAS 78 compliant”. The PAS is not a new set of accessibility guidelines. It’s a document aimed at people who commission websites. It’s completely nonsensical for a company that develops websites to claim that their products and services comply with the PAS. At a pinch, you could say that your development processes are in line with some of the recommendations of the PAS, particularly the user testing aspects. But even that is really stretching it, in my not so humble opinion. Stick with claiming WCAG compliance. Heck, the PAS itself has the following to say about companies claiming to create sites that are “DDA-compliant”:

9.1.1 It is not possible to provide a definitive specification for a fully accessible website which will satisfy the requirements of the DDA. Website commissioners should therefore be sceptical if contracting companies declare that they will create websites that are “DDA-compliant” or “compliant with the law”. Conversely, website commissioners should not require a web designer to design a website that is “DDA-compliant” or “compliant with the law”. Until case law has been established such claims cannot be made or honoured.

If that is the general advice given with regards to companies claiming “DDA-compliance”, I’d imagine that site commissioners should be even more skeptical of companies claiming “PAS 78 compliance”.

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NFB vs. Target in perspective Tue, 14 Feb 2006 22:46:26 +0000 mattmay Since the National Federation of the Blind sued Target Corp. for the inaccessibility of its Web site, many people have taken sides, vilifying Target and/or lionizing NFB in turn. I think it’s too early for that, if it’s necessary at all. In terms of US law, this was a suit that needed to happen, because the case law on Web accessibility is so far pretty thin. The most important thing to take away from this news is that the same case could be brought against dozens of comparable e-commerce sites, and all over problems that stop many users dead in their tracks, and yet could be fixed without affecting their visual design or functionality.

I’m hesitant to paint Target as the solitary enemy of users with disabilities. Let’s be clear: The accessibility of Target’s site is terrible. But in a short review I did of big-box store sites this morning, they’re not the worst around. In fact, they’re pretty much the middle of the range.

Take Please. From an accessibility standpoint, if Target is bad, Costco is a godless abomination. Never mind the distinct lack of alt text (which, by the way, is not the alpha and omega of Web accessibility): Costco’s homepage contains over a hundred subcategories in hidden drop-down boxes. But they’re not links. Noooooo. They’re table cells, with mouse events that fire JavaScript functions to load the relevant pages. Nice. The Costco site is not only inaccessible, its code is so poorly designed that its bloated size alone contributes to major usability problems for everyone.

Costco is only one example of many I found. But I’m picking on them in particular because their brick-and-mortar operation is refreshingly progressive. The company prides itself on a “workplace focused on ethics and obeying the law”, and has enormous signs at their front door stating that they strive to accommodate the needs of their customers in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

So, to what do we attribute the utter inaccessibility of many e-commerce sites: ignorance, miscommunication, or malice? I’ve seen all three in practice. Often, it doesn’t take the threat of a lawsuit to get site owners to come around; they merely need to understand the problems, and what they can do to solve them, in order of impact on the user.

But I’ve also seen cases where it’s a legal game of chicken: some companies refuse to comply with a legal mandate that they feel doesn’t clearly apply to them. They’re gambling that the cost of being found guilty of non-compliance is lower than that of conforming to a standard that may not apply to them. This strategy falls apart like a house of cards as soon as one of them is found liable. And it’s a tactic I find particularly odious when they’re consciously acting to keep users with disabilities out.

The fact is that the Web has afforded many people with disabilities new-found potential to buy and sell things, work, manage finances, find community, gather news, and access government services — all things able-bodied people take for granted. When people with disabilities received legal protection, it wasn’t given out of pity. It was given to protect their right to participate equally in society. Web designers and developers can enable that equal participation with every site they design, using modern coding principles. Or they can hide in a castle or a cave, clutching their legacy code, certain that those evil, litigious disabled people are out to get them.

So, which is it?

[This entry cross-posted to take your comments and trackbacks.]

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Staying on Target Fri, 10 Feb 2006 18:54:19 +0000 feather A lot can happen in 24 hours.

In the time since yesterday’s post, Taking Aim at Target(.com), the web site has been changed to address at least the image based submit buttons on the Target Pharmacy sign in page. It no longer requires a mouse click to submit the forms.

They literally fixed this overnight. If it took so little time to fix, why now and not ten months ago when the US National Federation of the Blind originally complained to Target?

We have all heard it: “until there’s the threat of legal action, companies just won’t take notice.” It shouldn’t take a law suit and significant press and buzz across the web to motivate people into action. If we rely on law suits from special interest groups and then fix those problems, we don’t do anything for any of the other groups that require accessibility.

So, a small victory, and kudos to Target for making this change. Too bad the alt attributes for the submit buttons on the sign in page are still missing.

Clearly this is a long way from over and we’re all watching with interest.

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Taking Aim at Target(.com) Thu, 09 Feb 2006 19:31:07 +0000 feather With a name like Target, you would almost think they would have seen it coming, wouldn’t you?

The US National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has brought legal action against Target corporation (a major US-based discount retailer which operates more than 1,300 stores in 47 states) because their web site is not accessible. The NFB has raised the issue with Target Corporation before:

The website is no more accessible today than it was in May of last year, when we first complained to Target.

That’s about 10 months ago. Sorry Target, but that’s just not good enough.

Ten months is more than enough time to fix the issues, or at least get started doing so. (Word to the wise – if you are making accessibility changes to your site based on feedback – make sure you document your process so that you can at least show that you’re doing something to address the issues, and if you are doing it incrementally make some sort of public announcment with each improvement you make, ok? You know – that would make good business sense.)

There’s quite a few areas that are described as problematic in the official NFB v Target case documents but the main points are:

  • Lack of alt text
  • images maps that neither have alt text or a functional equivalent on the page
  • requirement for a mouse to perform various functions on the site

Honestly – I’m shocked at the first two. This is Accessibility 101. Should be in HTML 101 and Web Design 101 as well. But the third? A requirement for a mouse? I had to see this for myself.

It seems that uses image based submit buttons for certain forms (<input type="image" .../>). See the Target Pharmacy Sign In page. That’s right there’s no alt text on the image based submit buttons. Oh, but it gets worse.

When using these type of submit buttons, x and y co-ordinates that represent the exact location in pixels where the image was clicked are submitted along with the rest of the form as part of its array of name-value pairs. And if you use the keyboard to submit the link what happens? No x or y co-ordinates. And if your server side logic requires those x and y co-ordinates? Yes, that’s right. You have effectively locked out keyboard users.

This will be an interesting case for a number of reasons:

  1. is powered by, so who is responsible? are both responsible? a 50-50 split? 75-25? does the engine that is powering the site even allow Target developers make it accessible? Depending on the functionality of the Amazon engine, can it be considered an Authoring Tool and thus subject to the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines? Did Amazon promise accessibility but not deliver? Did accessibility even make it on to the radar when building the site?
  2. other cases have failed for a variety of reasons; the Southwest Airlines case had less teeth because they admitted fully that a screen reader user could still buy tickets online, but it was tougher to do so. Not the case with A non-mouse user can not buy online. Nor can they create or sign in to the Target online pharmacy. A screen reader user can not find out what grocery coupons found exclusively on the web they can print to take into the store.

Will the NFB be successful? Can a case like this have an influence on web accessibility in the private sector world-wide? One can only hope. We need this to be big, and we need it to hurt badly so that corporations world-wide take more notice.

Cross-posted to take your comments

For further reading:

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