Target’s Accessibility – Not All Bad, Just Mostly Bad

I tried to explain that last post on the PR Disaster forming for Target (TGT) about refusing to make their site accessible. I had difficulty because had to use geek speak. So in an effort to explain in English I ran some accessibility tests on the target site. It is not all bad news, just mostly bad news for target.

The way a screen reader works is it converts a web site to text and then reads it out loud to the person. So this first image (below) was created with the Fangs emulator and shows the words that would be read out loud. (Note – Fangs is not a screen reader, it is a free emulator used by developers). Anyway, see all of those "Link" and "Bullet" words? Those are links that are images that do not have ALT tags. That is bad. And it is easy to fix. Would you want to have a computer say "link bullet link bullet link bullet" to you over and over? Of course not.

This next image is called "headings" again from Fangs. Headings are where I would go first if using a screen reader so I could jump to the relevant part of the page. Just like you move your eyes to a relevant part, so does a blind person want to skip the stuff and get to the parts that are interesting. Target does have two headings. For a sighted person the page has many more headings. That disconnect? That is a problem. This needs to improve. Again – very easy to fix with style sheets.

This last tab shows links. The screen reader pulls links out of sentences and presents the user with just a list of links. Which is why having a link like "click here" is really bad because it loses context when presented as a stand alone link. But as you saw from the first image, it is not reasonable for the person to have to sit there and listen to the computer droning on and on about bullets and links. In this case a quick review shows they DO have meaningful text links. This is good.

What I do know is that it would be FAR cheaper for them to fix the site
than pay the lawyers. And now pay a PR agency to help them recover from
the most bone headed corporate move since Dunn’s pretexting.

If you are an executive at Target here is the bottom line. Your developers are being ridiculous. Tell them to fix it. Apologize for being arrogant. Fire the lawyers. Pay the legal fees or whatever. And then get some crisis communications help. Sheeeh.