Weblogs: Web Accessibility

Target's motion to dismiss rejected

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The first steps towards another test case about the accessibility of websites under the Americans with Discrimination Act was completed on the 7th September 2006.

Target's motion to dismiss on the grounds that ADA covers physical premises only was rejected by the Californian federal district judge, Marilyn Hall Patel. This opens the way for the case to continue, and whether websites fall under the definition of public accommodations is now an open question. This is a step forward, since Patricia Seitz, the judge on the Southwest Airlines case ruled that websites were not public accommodations. Perhaps a reversal of this ruling is on the cards, since the judge considers current caselaw as unpersuasive.

On the other hand, the judge denied a motion for a preliminary injunction that Target fix their website immediately. What is also interesting is that the judge dismissed part of the claim relating to information and services relating to Target.com that is unconnected to the Target stores. Because the plaintiff fails to state a claim under Title III of ADA, those claims are dismissed.

Nevertheless, the case so far gets accessible websites back on par to where it was before the Southwest Airlines case, where both sides have the opportunity to argue whether websites are public places of accommodation.

Another interesting point covered by Joe Clark is that its disputable that the Target website is inaccessible to blind people. Derek Featherstone noted that within 24 hours of the initial legal challenge being raised Target had fixed a number of accessibility problems.

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