... And, with all due respect, wouldn't blind people be better off using the phone instead of filing lawsuits?
I actually can't believe you said that. Have you ever tried using a Braille phone book? If you don't know the phone number, how can you call? Product catalogs from companies rarely come with Braille. People with disabilities have an especially difficult time going out on errands, blind people not withstanding. The Internet allows disabled people to bypass most of the physical obstacles they might encounter, only to encounter technological obstacles that are easily overcome by proper coding practices. When people resort to lawsuits, they've exhausted all other means. Most likely Target blew these people off continually, and now Target is caught in a lawsuit.
There's no reason that companies can't make their web sites accessible. It doesn't take extra time. It doesn't take extra money. It just means using heading tags, and binding labels to form fields properly. You can have a quasi-usable web site for a blind person even using tables if you properly mark up your content with headings, lists and form field labels. The government isn't asking Target to do something extra. It's asking Target to be fair. It's no different, in my mind, than putting in wheel chair ramps or wheel chair accessible stalls in bathrooms, except the benefit on the Web is little to no extra cost. To top things off, what's good for blind users is good for everyone. Labels on form fields provide a larger clickable area which activates the form field. This is especially nice with radio buttons and check boxes.
Disabled people have been fighting for decades to get people to realize they are significant and their needs are genuine, not something to be overlooked or laughed at. An accessible Web is vital to these people. It opens up a host of new products and services that otherwise might be unavailable or too difficult to get.
However, TJ111, I do get what you mean about fearing web developers might spend too much time appeasing the government, yet it's clear that we won't get an accessible Web until the government requires us to appease them. Nothing drags an industry down like red tape, but Web accessibility is a basic feature, not a ridiculous government mandate. It's being polite. It's being humane. It's just plain common sense. Web accessibility laws wouldn't be impeding on the Internet. Web developers who do not consider accessibility are impeding the Internet. The Internet is about people, and all sorts of people need access to it.
But yet again, the laws shouldn't get to a point where they impede on the process. It's my belief that proper coding practices are all we need. Not extra work. We might need a government mandate to satisfy basic accessibility requirements, and I don't want to spend a significant chunk of time filling out paperwork and running tests for the government. But we a need push by the government before companies take it seriously. Truth be told, I think it's the Web development agencies that should be held accountable. Who designed Target's web site? A company shouldn't have to tell a design agency to make it accessible. That should be included. Not including accessibility in a Web site is like omitting the logo. It's basic. It doesn't take much effort to remember, and MUCH less effort than creating a logo. So let's do it.