Following coments on Twitter, one might think that the case of the National Federation of the Blind v. Target lawsuit ended up with a big win for accessibility. On the face of it, this may appear to be true - sure, it’s cost Target $6 million to finally put this case to bed. That’s not an insignificant amount of money by most people’s standards, but by Target’s measures it’s still small change.As Bruce Lawson points out in his post on the topic,
Target gives away $3million every week to its local communities through grants and special programs.
Looking at the positive: they’ve agreed to remove the accessibility barriers that were identified by February 2009. That’s something, at least. They could have just done that a couple of years ago, at a significantly smaller cost, mind. If it were my business, I know I’d much rather spend $50,000 and get it right than have the company name dragged through the mud for a couple of years and at a cost of $6m. But hey, hindsight is a wonderful thing, right? And Target is not a one-man business.
The downside (aside from the comparitively small amount of payment in settlement) is the lack of admission on Target’s part that they did anything wrong. If that were truly the case, though, and they really were ‘whiter than white’, how did they end up with the conclusion that they did? Surely the result alone indicates culpability? Bet then, like so many other commenters have said since reading this, "I’m not a lawyer", so perhaps I’ll never truly get the fine details.
What does this mean from here on in? Well, we still don’t really have the perfect test case (or ’scare case’) that we can refer people to: "Don’t do x and the accessiblity boogeyman will come get you, oooooh!" That said, most people that you might be creating web sites for are also not lawyers and won’t get the fine details - they’ll just see that a big corporation had to pay out a large sum of money for not doing basic housekeeping. And perhaps that’s all we need for the time being?