California may require websites to provide access to visually impaired users under ruling made in the long running case of the National Federation of the Blind vs Target.
The case centers on Target not providing basic accessibility to vision impaired users via the use of alt tags for images, keyboard options for navigation and missing navigation headers.
US District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in the Court for the Northern District of California had previously found that “the inaccessibility of Target.com impeded full and equal enjoyment of goods and services offered in Target stores” and has now ruled that the case is eligible for class action status, despite attempts by Target to have the case thrown out.
The result of the case will have far broader implications for the many startups and Web 2.0 companies operating in California, with many sites having to factor access into their services and sites or risk the prospect of legal sanctions.
Whilst the basics as easy enough: tagging images and making sure that sites can be accessed through text based browsers, the use of Ajax and other means of scripting sites means that the traditional html tagging may not either be available, or more difficult to implement.
There is some suggestion from the court case that accessibility may also be required under the Americans with Disabilities Act as well, meaning that although the ruling is currently focused on California law, it could extend to the rest of the United States.
More information on making websites accessible to those with visual impairments can be found at the American Foundation for the Blind.
(via El Reg)