Friday, October 27, 2006

Handicapping The Modern World

Department store Target is being sued for discriminating against the sight impaired. The alleged discrimination happened on their website.

At issue is that, while programs that read the text content of online links, which the sight impaired can access with a keyboard, are available, graphic-intensive sites don’t accommodate them.

Target has countered that ADA rules apply only to physical places of business, not virtual ones. They’re probably right.

I’m not generally the type to side with Corporate America, but I can understand the blind were not foremost in the minds of Target’s web designers.

I’m also sure a more text-intensive Internet is not what we all want (it's not a book). Imagine the impact on porn sites alone! (I kid.)

I was in a stadium seating theatre once, and before the movie started, a physically disabled man came in, looked around at the auditorium, then called for the manager.

I couldn’t hear their conversation clearly, but I could tell it was about the fact that the patron could not really partake of the stadium seating experience, because it involved climbing stairs. The manager seemed contrite and understanding, but the patron ended up leaving.

Devil’s advocate question here, and it’s going to make me sound like an insensitive bastard, but here goes: If you can’t participate in something, does that mean the other 99% of people who can shouldn’t be allowed to?

I believe in doing everything possible to simplify and improve the lives of the less-able. Any of us could become one of them any day. But that doesn’t mean sighted people, for example, should feel bad about nor be prevented from making full use of their gift.

Incidentally, I have been in at least one stadium seating theatre that did accommodate the handicapped. The entrance hall to the auditorium was essentially an up-ramp, so when you entered you were at mid-level, not ground level. The handicapped section was right there – the best seats in the house.

I distinguish between willful discrimination and discrimination by ignorance. So should the law. Handicapped groups should have a dialogue with companies that are not meeting their needs (there is no mention of this in the linked article) before heading to court.

I’d hate to be blind, crippled or otherwise impaired. (Well, some kinds of impairment don’t suck). And I sincerely hope all businesses will work to accommodate the handicapped to the greatest extent possible.

15 comments:

Hellpig said...

5 bucks say the ACLU are the lawyers

The Flabbergasted Heathen said...

Props to you for the Guinness link.

Pete Bogs said...

hell - they're not mentioned in the article...

flab - no problem!

rusty shakelford said...

their is a such thing as a text only browser, its called lynx. If I was blind I would probably "look" into it.

Bird said...

i don't think the issue here is that target's graphic-intensive site can't handle the software needed to accomdoate the blind. tons of other sites with intensive graphics have found ways to accodomodate -without sacrificing the look and feel (branding) of their site and without inconveniencing those of us who rely on those visuals.

the issue is that target has either intentionally or unintentionally completely ignored this particular consumer group - effectively barred them from their cyberspace doors.

as for target and the plantiffs in the suit not talking first - often, the filing of a lawsuit is the vehicle to bring about just such a discussion. can't blame the plantiffs for the way the "system" works (or, er, ahem, doesn't work). and perhaps there were dicussions. though i would suspect, filing the lawsuit and going public might be part of a larger plan - to bring this issue to fore.

if target were smart, they'd change their tune and capture this particular "audience" - this particular consumer group. it's good business. and it's not cost prohibitive nor impossible to do- too many other brick-and-mortar stores who are now online have pulled it off - not to mention stores that have never been brick-and-mortar.

Pete Bogs said...

this is a crappy way to bring up the issue if there are other ways to do so... we Americans are lawsuit-crazy... it's a shame if that is considered anything but a last resort... it shouldn't be a "conversation starter"...

Target, once wise to the problem, should do everything they can to remedy it... actually it sounds like they are making changes... but I can still understand that maximum access for the blind was not the web designers' initial focus... probably done out of ignorance... it's not something most people think about all the time... just like they don't think to ask me if I am vegetarian so they can accommodate my needs...

Hellpig said...

the 1974 american disability act does not cover cyberspace the plaintiff is assed out

Sanford B. Hines said...

Bush is Evel. Fuck The Bush, Fuck the Bush. Fuck the Bush.

Peaches said...

Have to agree with you again on this one. Having had disabled people in my family we do like the idea of accessible theatres, lots of seating on the footpaths and in shopping centres,and some consideration since walking up a ramp is no trouble for the abled bodied.
But when we see 'sue here, sue there' we in Oz shake our heads and say;
"Only in America!!"

Hellpig said...

Whatever happened to Fragmentia?

Hellpig said...

Sanford the troll straight men always fuck the "bush" what exactly are you incoherently babbling about this time?

Hellpig said...

Oh I get it now you finally after all these years have discovered the "bush" well then by all means sanford "fuck the bush,fuck the bush" bush is GOOD....yeah I am so proud of our resident troll,to see him grow before our very eyes,it just tears me up......

Pete Bogs said...

peaches - lawsuits are not always the answer... only as a last resort...

hell - I discontinued that after a few months as it was difficult to come up with material for two blogs and find a new job! now that I'm settled into that I don't know if I want to restart it... however, I still hope to do some posts in that vein in this space...

Hellpig said...

Fair enough...was just wondering...when I had my 2 blogs I found it difficult to come up with new posts...my new blog I think will focus on the link between Muhammad and Shayitan I have been doing a lot of reading on this subject and it facinates me how twisted and truley perverted the teachings of Islam really is and how most of the Qu'ran is not discussed or taught but rather hidden and lied about.

Sanford B. Hines said...

Your mommy is a trool?

Thanks you?