Do Canadian Websites Need to be Accessible to Blind Users?

In September in the case of National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corp. (N.D. Cal. Sept. 28, 2007), a federal district court in California certified a class action lawsuit on behalf of blind internet users against, the website of the Target chain of retail stores. The court also ruled that websites such as qualify as a kind of business establishment, advantage or facility for the purposes of the ADA — something that had previously been reserved for physical places such as bricks-and-mortar stores. The plaintiff is trying to force Target to comply with the World Wide Web Consortium‘s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or one of the other standards which permit site-reading software to decode the visual content of websites for blind users.

Is this a development that Canadian website operators need to be concerned about? If a Canadian company operates an e-commerce website with significant US sales, it is certainly an issue to review and monitor as this class action proceeds. We’ll have to wait for the ultimate outcome. At this stage, the law in this area is still unclear, particularly as it might impact pure e-commerce companies, who have no bricks-and-mortar presence, and whether Canadian website operators may be caught up to the extent they are engaged in sales to US consumers.  There is no corresponding Canadian case-law in this area.
Calgary – 10:35 MST

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