The National Federation of the Blind has extracted $6 million from Target as a result of its lawsuit claiming that the chain's website was insufficiently accessible to the visually impaired. The NFB sued under the Americans With Disabilities Act, claiming the website was a "place of public accommodation" that Target was obliged to make accessible. (Target unsuccessfully argued that the law applied only to physical spaces.) In addition to putting $6 million in "an interest-bearing account from which members of the California settlement class can make claims," Target will enter into "a three-year relationship during which the advocacy group will keep testing the site to make sure it is accessible to the blind." The NFB says Target's site used to be notably harder to navigate with text-reading software than competing retailers' sites but has improved substantially in recent years.
As I said when a federal judge rejected Target's motion to dismiss the NFB's lawsuit, I don't think litigation, as opposed to public criticism and competitive pressure, is the appropriate way to address complaints like this one. Even if you accept the premise that the government should make sure all businesses (and websites) are accessible to people with disabilities, I've never understood why business owners, as opposed to taxpayers in general, should bear the financial burden of making them so. If the answer is that the modifications attract enough new business to justify the cost, there would be no need to impose them by law.
[via Josh Xiong]