no third solution

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Visual Media Discriminates Against the Blind

October 3rd, 2007

Or so alleges a class-action suit in (where else but) the People’s Republic of California, against retail giant, Target:

“This is a tremendous step forward for blind people throughout the country who for too long have been denied equal access to the Internet economy,” Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation for the Blind, said in a statement [following dismissal of a motion of summary judgment in favor of Target].

As with nearly all other similar cases of “discrimination,” I’m curious – what is it about this particular store (or shopping experience) that you can’t get anywhere else? What is the allure – what sort of retarded self-denial compels you to spend your money where you feel insulted?

Walk me through it, ok:

1. Either the company doesn’t care about you – or you strongly believe (however erroneously) this to be the case.
2. This is evidenced by your inability to shop there in exactly the manner you’d prefer, how you want, when you want.
3. A miracle happens
4. You suddenly want to spend your money there (enriching the shareholders) so badly that you try and use the government’s strongarm to compel the company to pretend to care just enough about you so that it’s no longer an inconvenience for you to shop there.

I’m aware that there are means by which a developer can make a website accessible – in a sense – to the blind, such as not leaving text-boxes (e.g., search boxes, password boxes, etc.,) blank by default, but instead populating the field with an alternate text which can be read by a screen reader. And of course, not being blind myself, I have no idea how this stuff really works – the user still can’t see the screen – does he just mouse around blindly until he finds something?

C’mon. Blind people will quite simply never have equal access to the Internet. But in case you’re wondering, what’s in question here is the legitimacy of Target’s website, which the NFB and others claim is discriminatory against the blind. Which is kind of like saying that FedEx discriminates against the homeless, or that compact discs discriminate against the deaf. Or (warning: hyperbole ahead) that hybrid cars discriminate against the blind – because they run quieter and are harder to hear, hence more dangerous for someone who can’t see.

That’s retarded. Wal-Mart, Kmart, Meijer, and probably a dozen other regional stores that I don’t know about would probably love your money – and I’ll bet some of their websites are compliant with screen-reading technology.




no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics