Feeds

Act on accessibility now, before it hurts

You could be next in the firing line

High performance access to file storage

Comment There are two cases, that I am aware of, moving through the courts in the US relating to accessibility of IT solutions.

The first is being brought by a customer of target.com. Target.com is the ecommerce arm of Target that has a US-wide chain of department stores. The design of the website makes it inaccessible to the blind, and thereby violates federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination against the disabled. The first stage of the case revolved around whether the law applies to the website, as compared to the physical stores. The basic answer is yes, with some legal niceties. Target does not deny that the site has accessibility problems.

In fact, it is difficult to understand why Target decided to contest the case. I am sure that a reasonably modest out-of-court settlement and an agreement to resolve the technical issues over a reasonable period of time would have been acceptable to both sides. There is now no doubt that Target is going to have to improve the website to make it more accessible both from a social responsibility and commercial point of view. It also now seems highly likely that the claimant will receive damages and costs. If Target does nothing, other claimants will learn lessons from this initial case and be able to sue more effectively.

I am convinced that over the coming year we will see announcements from Target to say it has improved the website and I would hope it will be able to share a massive business case for accessibility.

The second case is where the National Federation of the Blind and three state employees have filed a lawsuit against Oracle Corp and the state of Texas, seeking to ensure that all applications used by the state government are accessible to blind state workers.

The state of Texas installed a new human resources package from Oracle PeopleSoft. The selection process did not check that the package would be accessible to blind employees. The system that was being replaced had been used successful by a number of employees and managers with vision impairments. With the new system a blind employee cannot update or even view their own records without help from a sighted colleague. Even more seriously a manager cannot view the records of his direct reports without help from a third party. This obviously causes serious privacy and confidentiality issues.

Undoubtedly, these cases are not good publicity for any of the defendants and will require executive time and effort to resolve. Oracle and Target happen to be in the spotlight, but it could easily have been another enterprise or supplier of IT solutions.

Every enterprise and supplier must recognise they could be next. They should also recognise that retrofitting accessibility is difficult and expensive, and is likely to end up with a sub-optimal solution.

Vendors, in particular, should not wait for a court case before acting. Software vendors, consultants, system integrators and developers should act now before they are:

  • Summarily taken off a short list because the tender requires accessibility as an absolute given.
  • Sued for providing a solution that is not fit for purpose, which might well be much more costly than a breach of the accessibility legislation.
  • Castigated by investors for a lack of corporate social responsibility.

Vendors, if you have a good story to tell, now is the time to make it public so you can steal a march on the competition. If you do not have a good story, now is the time to put a plan in place to resolve the issues. Bloor Research will be happy to help you in either situation. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.