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As most of you know, I usually have a strong opinion on the cases I review. This time, I want to give my readers the opportunity to comment on the future of the Americans with Disabilities Act as it applies to websites. In National Federation of the Blind, et al. v Target Corporation, No. C 06-01802 MHP (N.D. Ca., Sept. 5, 2006), Target was sued because its retail website, Target.com, was not accessible to the blind allegedly in violation of the ADA. Although the organization’s motion for a mandatory injunction to require Target to make their site accessible was denied, the court indicated that the Federation could proceed with its lawsuit. In 2008, Target agreed to settle by paying $6,000,000 to the Federation and agreeing to modify its website with the input of the Federation. Although this case was decided in California and may not set a national precedent, it does seem consistent with the Justice Department’s previous position, although inconsistent with previous court decisions. The questions I am looking for input on are: Are all websites public accommodations? If not, are websites public accommodations if they are integral to a business which serves the public, such as a retailer? What is the cost of making a website accessible? Does making a website accessible reduce its visual appeal? What other issues with websites do people with disabilities encounter? It is my understanding that, in addition to being accessible to those with visual impairments, websites with a “universal design” are more apt to display properly on handheld devices like the iPhone. I am wondering if instead of additional legislation and lawsuits, there is a way to encourage website accessibility in a way that is both cost effective and useful.

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