Target Sued For Not Optimizing Their Site For Disabled

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Found this story over the weekend. Target is being sued by a 24-year-old blind college student and the National Federation of the Blind for not having the required ALT tags in order for screen readers to understand the page correctly. They are also complaining that there is no alternative to clicking with the mouse during the checkout process and that the site is missing a sitemap. Right away this raises an interesting point that every webmaster should consider.

Today most webmasters look at ALT tags as a way to stick few more keywords into that page. Some stopped using ALT tags altogether, being afraid that they might get banned for spamming the search engines. Few realize that image ALT tags are actually there for a purpose. Originally they were used to cater to those users with images disabled in their browsers. However, with the age of broadband, such users virtually disappeared. Another reason why using ALT tags might be beneficial is the fact that your website will be more accessible through handheld devices and cellphones. Yet another reason has to do with the lawsuit mentioned above. Screen readers, which are often used by visually impaired users, rely on actual text in order to extract information. That means that nothing about your images or Flash animation will be understood.

These things are something you should take into consideration. Designing your website with all kinds of people in mind might benefit you in many ways.

About the Author

Andrey Milyan was the first editor-in-chief of Search Marketing Standard, the leading print publication covering the search marketing industry. He has been following and reporting on industry developments for over 10 years. Andrey now works in the paid search sector of a prominent search marketing agency.

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One Comment

  1. Anonymous

    Wow. I'm surprised an outfit as large as Target would miss this. They've also been very conscious of these kind of issues in their store services, in my experience. Actually, I used to work their part-time at one point, so I know their corporate policy (at least then) was pretty sensitive to disabilities. Hmmm