Blind Sue Target, Claim Web Site Unfairly Needs To Be Seen

A blind student in California has sued Target over the occularly-challenged unfriendliness of its web site.

In an astonishing Beatie-Boys-meets-The-Beatles style mash-up between pompous legalese and labored prose, his lawsuit claims: “”Target thus excludes the blind from full and equal participation in the growing Internet economy that is increasingly a fundamental part of daily life.” Right.

Dear Blind People – I know you can’t read this, with the egg-white film coating your unblinking eyes, but unfortunately the Internet is a visual medium. It is not alone in this. It’s sad, but true: humanity is hard-wired to see. You may think that a dead robotic voice reading you the contents of Consumerist is a rough equivalent to what the other sighted viewers enjoy, but trust me: you are missing a vast universe of truly atrocious Internet design, the likes of which — if you were to suddenly undergo an operation that restored your vision — would make you pluck the scalpel from your surgeon’s hands and double plunge it directly into your newly healed retinas.

Likewise, almost everything else — life is alternatingly beautiful and ugly, and most of it requires that you see. There is a vast array of useful information on the web that the blind should be able to access. But Target’s latest deals on bright yellow novelty speedos with the words “Banana Hammock” actually printed upon them is not part of that array. Given that, this sounds like the blind person equivalent of funky Unix fatties complaining that Shockwave’s web site doesn’t format correctly in Lynx.

As much as we hate Target — no sympathy for this little stunt.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Anabelle says:

    Jeez, I think you’re being a little harsh toward the plaintiff here. Good Web design accommodates sightless people. I imagine that, as a private corporation, Tarzhay may not be held liable for depriving this person of online shopping opportunities. But it’s really bad business to make an inaccessible Web site; thus, the lawsuit may be doing a service by raising awareness among online merchants.

    I have several sight-impaired (i.e., legally blind) friends who rely on the Internet to do business, keep in touch with friends, and, yes, shop — especially helpful when you can’t drive. Shame on Target for not being handicapped-accessible.

  2. mediaJolt says:

    Well, my wife is an architect at Target, so I’m biased, but… this guy’s a flippin’ baby! Or he’s out to make a quick buck and tie up our court system and earn his attorney lots of money with the kind of legalized kickbacks perpetuated by our excessively litigous culture.

    Or he’s just a flippin’ baby.

  3. Ben Popken says:

    If he wants to use the internet so much why doesn’t he use a text-to-speach program?

  4. I think, Ben, that the point is that the site uses a lot of images instead of actual text.

    As far as the argument that good web site facilitates text-to-speech readers, well, luckily, good website design is not a law. If it was, everyone at the Consumerist would be in jail.

  5. Ben Popken says:

    Yeah the “A List Apart” police needs to back those Consumerist bastards up against the wall.

  6. airship says:

    Text to speech doesn’t do you much good if the site is all graphics. But it does if the site uses good values for those grapics’ ‘alt’ tags. Good web design for the disabled is encouraged by the W3C. The ability to accommodate the visually impaired is right there in HTML. Use it.
    That being said, I always hate to see lawyers get involved in anything. I think a little lobbying by this guy or by an advocacy group would do a better job of getting Target to change their ways. Calling CNN or Oprah would probably get the job done, too.

  7. The Comedian says:

    Up next: Illiterates suing the local newspaper.

  8. AcidReign says:

    …..If I were blind, I’d just not shop at Target online. Last I remember, the “Disability Act” didn’t include the internet. I think “baseless lawsuit” is the word here…

  9. People Paula says:

    I love that your keywords at the bottom start with “Blind Complaints.” Those complaining bastards!

  10. BenP says:

    Why do you hate Target? Did they kick your kitten or something?

  11. rikomatic says:

    I’m unclear on the vitriolic tone of people’s comments about this blind guy just trying to get his shopping done. As more and more essential commerce and banking and civic activity gets done on the internets, its a valid question whether or not people who are visually impaired or need some other kind of assisted access should be accommodated.

    We decided in this country not very long ago that not only government buildings but all stores had to have ramps to accommodate people in wheelchairs. I’m sure there were folks back then who thought that those poor bastards should just stay home. I’m sure the business community fought those laws tooth and nail. Thankfully more open-minded and compassionate thinking prevailed.

    So why is it such a leap for you to imagine a blind person being pissed off being prevented from shopping online because of poor site design? As someone said, there are already lots of clear guidelines out there from the W3C and other disability advocacy groups that can help web designers find the right balance between aesthetics, efficiency and access.

    Clearly someone needs a bit more lovin’ on Valentines.

  12. katedahl says:

    In addition to text-to-speech software, many blind people use Braille displays which gives a tactile representation of the computer’s text output. As mentioned above, if a website displays images instead of text, the information cannot be converted in Braille.

  13. pinkfu says:

    Comparing the illiterate to the blind is stupid.That means you “TheComedian”, STUPID.

    This post is stupid. Calling the internet a “visual medium” is limiting and a stupid statement to make. Your ignorance is showing, so is the lack of your imagination and grip on reality.

    For fuck’s sake, don’t do any podcasts in the near future.

    A business that does not allow blind or visual impaired people to purchase from them is stupid. It’s bad business and STUPID. That includes sites that are only pushing ad sales to support their existence. COUGHGAWKERMEDIACOUGH


    :) I feel better now.