SitePoint, Lawsuits, and Internet Accessibility

August 28th, 2006 by Chris

So why did SitePoint ask me to stop blogging, stop writing a book for them, and stop moderating their forums? Well I asked them when they did it if it was because of my beliefs or because of something I said and they said no.

However there is speculation that it was done because of my stance in the thread about being sued over web accessibility. I am proud of that stance and while this is certainly old news I feel that, considering how I was slandered on so many blogs, my blog should say something about it. In any case this type of controversial post should drive traffic. In some of these blogs others obviously follow my leanings, but far too many are of the politically correct socialist ilk.

I am a business man. I am a capitalist. I am a libertarian. I believe that the best way to contribute to the world is to be productive. I believe in personal responsibility, it is you, not the government, and certainly not a third party, that is ultimately responsible for your own well being.

The issue that was at hand was that a blind man in California, who was the head of a blind advocacy group and so we can then infer he was involved with issues affecting the blind, was upset because he could not buy socks at He then entered “negotiations” with Target and when those failed, he sued them.

My problems with this are many.

For one, the modern world, and especially the US, is lawsuit happy. We need tort reform and we need it now. In other countries, in Europe, they have reforms such as loser-pays and things are much better.

For two, they didn’t say what the negotiations were for, but I can read between the lines. What could they possibly be negotiating? The changes Target would need to make would be fairly easy, why not just do them? Perhaps could he have been trying to blackmail them into payment, or asking for something beyond what was necessary to make the site accessible? I think the answer is obvious, for why else would they have months long negotiation?

Finally, the plaintiff took the path of most resistance on purpose.

Handicapped people are not normal, they have handicaps. This would seem like an obvious observation and yet people, like socialist Bruce Lawson Has taken that quote out of context multiple times in a vain effort to apparently provoke people to his way of thinking. He also said in his blog how he is disabled, which in my opinion makes it obvious why he would overreact. Disabled people have it rough, there is no denying that, and he’s probably so used to fighting and defending that he sees enemies where there are none. He thinks I’m trying to classify the disabled as second class citizens and so he’s gotten all riled up about this.

The fact is, disabled people have disabilities, that is the definition of the world. They cannot do everything a normal person can do. That is a fact. Even with all the accessibility enhancements currently available there is not parity. Considering this I do not think it is too much to ask for a disabled person to use the path of least resistance. If there are steps and a ramp, the wheelchair bound individual should use the ramp. Saying this is not prejudice, it is not discrimination, it is merely a statement of fact followed up by a plea for the use of common sense.

Like I said, this Target guy used the path of most resistance. He could have shopped at Target’s accessible stores. He could have used another accessible website, like Walmart, to get the exact same thing or nearly the exact same thing. He could have even used which mirrors all of Target’s online inventory. He could have called Target for assistance and ordered by phone. He could have bought his socks by a variety of means and yet he chose not to.

I also see this as punishing Target for being accessible in other ways. If Target did not have a website they would not be sued. Having a website makes their company accessible to people who are completely immobile and cannot leave the house. However making this website for such disabled people to use then opens them up to a lawsuit by other people who could use a Target store?

Finally I am against this because I am against the government or the courts interfering in business. The markets work, let them. For instance this plaintiff, as the head of a blind advocacy group, as someone with obvious connections, could have put out a press release, launched a boycott, tried to get his story put on one of those investigative news stories. This would have had a greater financial impact on Target than his lawsuit. It would have raised blind awareness among the entire country. It would have spurred Target to make changes quickly, but… alas… he wouldn’t have gotten a fat check.

Additionally, by not embracing the blind, Target is losing out on sales, and that money is an additional motivational factor.

Is a blind person immune to greed? Is it wrong to question his motives because he is disabled? I do not think so.

I also take exception to so many people saying Target discriminates and then drawing inappropriate analogies to racism or other forms of discrimination. As someone said in one of the blogs I linked to, what Target did is not discrimination by any definition of the word. Target doesn’t turn away the blind, they just do not fully accommodate them.

Target should have an accessible website. Businesses should do their best to accommodate all people. Not because they fear being sued, but because it is just good business. However if a business fails to do this the place to try it is in the court of public opinion. If you hurt their bottom line they will change, and if you don’t seek a monetary reward when doing it then no one like me will be out there questioning your motives.

I stand by these statements and my viewpoint. I do not agree with those who have a zealous need for universal equality and sacrifice common sense to get it. Web standards and accessibility are good, but not to be sued over. If you need something, take the easiest path to get it.

21 Responses to “SitePoint, Lawsuits, and Internet Accessibility”

  1. Agua  Says:

    Yeah – a lawsuit seems harsh in this case… I think there should be some kind of group formed where high profile sites who are not offering web accessibility can be reported, and pressure applied until they are accessible.

    Maybe that is why Sitepoint cut you off… although the reason seems weak, maybe its the direction in which they are heading

  2. sb  Says:

    I agree with a lot of what you said here. I’m so sick of the “poor me” syndrome and all the people that feel they are owed something, instead of erning something.

  3. Dave Marshall  Says:

    Sorry to hear that sitepoint cut you off man, it’s kind of pathetic really. I appreciate accessability and all, but this is taking it to the extreme’s.

    I’m can’t speak chinese, should I sue my friend who writes his blog in cantonese? maybe…

  4. Andrew Johnson  Says:

    I don’t know Chris, this guy might sue you for having a captcha on your blog. It would be really hard for me to post this comment if I was blind!

  5. Joe Clark  Says:

    Since you have been accused of deleting comments that disagree with you or even point out factual errors, why should we even bother “negotiating” with you in this forum?

    Also, yes, your CAPTCHA makes commenting on your blog inaccessible.

  6. Chris  Says:

    You must have the wrong impression. Why would I negotiate with a bunch of lawsuit mongering zealots? What is there to negotiate about? I’m just a guy with an opinion, my opinions are not negotiable.

    Also I’ve only disallowed one comment here, and it was nothing more than a baseless personal attack, calling me a bigot. It pointed out no factual errors and contained nothing more than an out of context quote and an accusation.

    I have little patience for those who would manipulate the legal system like a leech so that they can live a life of luxury without producing anything themselves.

    I also have little patience with politically correct socialist zealots who believe in equality beyond common sense, practicality, or even what is possible on this earth. They’re just a bunch of James Taggarts.

    Most of their mud comes from the fact that as an analogy I described a travesty that occurs in many American schools where more money is spent to babysit the mentally disabled all day, than is spent on preparing the smartest for college. People took that out of context to mean that I think neither the mentally disabled or physically disabled should be educated.

    The fact is the physically disabled should be educated just like anyone else. The mentally disabled should only be educated to their capacity, and if they have no capacity for academic study it is a waste of money to send them to an ordinary school. Most of the time they end up at such a school because the parents demand it, refusing to believe their child is anything but normal.

    The better solution would be teaching the mentally disabled life skills in a special school so that they can be independent one day.

    Maybe in lala socialist hippy land money grows on trees, but here on Earth it doesn’t and with budget constraints school districts have to make choices. The practical choice is to spend the most money on the most promising students because those students will be the ones to contribute the most to society. Perhaps one day one of them may even invent or discover something that helps the mentally disabled. However, due to the cancer of political correctness that pervades modern society most school districts, per pupil, spend 10x more for each mentally handicapped pupil than for a normal student.

    To bring things back, I’m not posting this to negotiate with people who feel differently.

    If the individual suing Target had purely altruistic motives he would not be seeking damages beyond legal costs, or if he were every last cent would be given to a charity.

  7. Joe Clark  Says:

    OK, big guy, answer us this: What do you think the actual cost to make the Target Web site accessible would have been? Feel free to answer it three ways– if it had been considered up front, in retrofitting the existing site (built upon Amazon’s engine, hence your proposal to simply shop at Amazon wouldn’t help), and by starting from scratch with a new platform.

    And a follow-up question, Your Honour, if I may? How do your answers in the first question compare against an undue-hardship defence?

  8. Chris  Says:

    What is the point of your question? Is your hate so fierce that you look for an adversary everywhere? I’m not Target’s lawyer nor Target’s employee. Nor do I think Target’s defense in this lawsuit should be that it is too hard for them to do. Its probably pretty easy.

    I’m not arguing against accessibility, I’m arguing against unnecessary greed-powered lawsuits. I’m arguing against someone trying to cash in on their disability by purposefully making things harder than they have to be.

  9. This Charming Jim  Says:

    “The issue that was at hand was that a blind man in California, who was the head of a blind advocacy group and so we can then infer he was involved with issues affecting the blind, was upset because he could not buy socks at He then entered “negotiations” with Target and when those failed, he sued them.”

    For your information, the above isn’t true. Bruce Sexton is a blind college student and named plaintiff in a class action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind. From the CNET story:
    “Sexton, along with a blind advocacy group, filed a class action lawsuit this week against Target, alleging that the retail giant’s Web site is inaccessible to the blind and thus violates a California law that incorporates the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

    By the way, where’s your evidence for the following statement? I’m not aware that Mr Sexton is living a life of luxury.
    “I have little patience for those who would manipulate the legal system like a leech so that they can live a life of luxury without producing anything themselves.”

  10. This Charming Jim  Says:

    Sorry, I posted a link to the CNET story but it seems to have been filtered out. The URL is

  11. Chris  Says:

    What isn’t true. Bruce Sexton isn’t the lead plaintiff in a suit against Target? That he isn’t head of a blind advocacy group? (He is president of the California Association of Blind Students).

    I’m not sure if English is your second language or what, but I also never said Mr. Sexton was living a life of luxury. I said, and you quoted this so you should know it, that I do not have patience for those who would manipulate the legal system so that they can lead a life of luxury. The idea being you find a rich company to sue, engineer a reason to sue them, and leech off of society. If Mr. Sexton gets a fat settlement then he would have fulfilled my statement, obviously that hasn’t happened yet.

    Really the best analogy I can describe for this case is someone entering a retail store in the winter. On one side of the entrance the sidewalk is slippery with ice, on the other side it is clear. The walker notices this and purposefully goes over to the icy side and falls down, trying to injure themselves, so that they can sue.

    Now sure, the store should have salted both sides of the entrance, however the person noticed the ice and could have avoided it had they chose.

    Target should make their site accessible, not because they are afraid of lawsuits, not because the government mandates it, but because it makes good business sense. They are losing money by not doing this.

    On the same token, a disabled person should use the path of least resistance to accomplish something. If you find Walmart easier to use than Target, use Walmart, or call Target, or visit Target. With so many possible options available why purposefully choose the hardest one? Plus, if you find a competitor like Walmart that is accessible, why not reward them by giving them your business instead of repeatedly trying to buy at the same place?

    You may not realize it but government regulation of business can be as slippery of a slope as government regulation of civil liberties. That is why you will be hard pressed to find a businessman that does not carry my same views on this topic.

  12. Joe Clark  Says:

    Another question, m’lord?

    Do those “businessmen” you claim share your opinion believe they should have the right to engage in *other* forms of discrimination?

    Yours in no anger whatsoever,

  13. This Charming Jim  Says:

    Very well, I misworded my question. I should have said – ‘I’m not aware that Mr
    Sexton intends to live a life of luxury.’ You, on the other hand, apparently know
    something we don’t, since you imply that this is Mr Sexton’s intention.

    What do you know that we don’t?

    Do you not find it ironic, and hypocritical, that you whine about being
    slandered on blogs and yet feel free to impugn Mr Sexton’s good name and
    character by implying that he’s doing this to get rich?

  14. Chris  Says:

    In my original post I stated that this is not discrimination, and I stand by that statement. Failure to accomodate a person with special needs is not the same thing telling someone to sit on the back of a bus or refusing service to someone based on ethnicity. You’re just trying to tie your pathetic argument to discrimination in order to bolster it’s button pushing value.

    As for saying they’re trying to get rich. The article linked to above clearly states that they are seeking damages in this case. Did you not read that portion?

  15. This Charming Jim  Says:

    I realise that English may not be my first language, but may I point out that ‘its’ does not take an apostrophe in the possessive?

    Tootle pip, old chap.

  16. Chris  Says:

    I happen to disagree with that rule of language. English is full of things that do not make sense and that is one of them. Not that it matters, but failed comprehension is not the same thing as a minor typo. If you’re now resorting to spell checking my posts I think your time would be better served by simply ignoring them.

    If you hope to persuade me to come around to the socialist way of thinking that the world should adapt to you, not you to the world, and that everyone should be equal regardless of ability or contribution, and that society is best served not by nuturing the intelligent and the creative to discover and invent new things, but by making everyone feel equal in a sort of bizarre social affirmative action. Well, it isn’t going to happen.

    I made this post so that when someone read the bad things about me posted elsewhere and searched for more they might find it and so realize that all those quotes taken out of context, were taken out of context. I did not make it to solicit conversion attempts.

    I also do not think you’ll be converted to my way of thinking. So unless you have something new to add why not stop being antagonistic and just put me on your list of people to hate and leave it at that?

  17. Nick Cowie  Says:

    Assuming the US and Australian court systems are not that different:
    1 Most the damages will go in legal fees;
    2 If things go pear shaped Bruce Sexton can lose everything
    3 If it is so easy, why does not every shyster lawyer get every disabled person they can sue every commercial website in the US and make huge fortunes and retire to the Bahamas?

  18. Chris  Says:

    1. About 30%, to these predatory lawyers.
    2. No, unfortunately in US courts the plaintiff doesn’t lose everything if their lawsuit is found to be without merit.
    3. They do, not everyone because some people atleast have ethics. Predatory personal injury lawyers go out seeking any possible client, and many so called professional-plaintiffs engineer repeated injuries or injustices for themselves that their job is literally suing people for money. They have no other employment.

    Here are some links: 1 2 3 4 5 6

    This legal climate is directly responsible for shaping my opinion on the matter. The US is such a litigious society at the moment and it really irks myself and many others.

  19. icebane  Says:

    I have a mild stuttering problem. I would prefer all communication with business contacts to be done through typing/email so my points are expressed as precisely as I can without any verbal foul ups. However, this does not allow me to grow and deal with my problem. I’m not trying to compare mild stuttering to being blind, I’m simply saying a lawsuit is an extremist, non-progessive way of dealing with the situation. If I had EXTREME stuttering and couldn’t talk, would I require Target to have their employees keep a pen/paper with them so I could write down my purchasing needs? Why do blind men have to purchase socks from Target, online? The business of Target already has purchasing solutions for blind men. It’s called going into the store, and using your mouth to ask employees for help. That is their current solution. It may not be exactly what this particular blind man wants, but IT IS A SOLUTION. If it doesn’t satisfy him maybe he should see if the solutions Kmart, Walmart, or Joe’s Shoe Store meet his needs better.

    Late at night, I get hungry. So I call Dominos to order a pizza. If I’m extremely tired and my suttering is bad due to lack of energy, I don’t feel like calling Dominos and ordering a pizza over the phone. So I do this little trick of asking a girlfriend/friend to order it for me! Holy shit!?

  20. shredder  Says:

    The practical choice is to spend the most money on the most promising students because those students will be the ones to contribute the most to society.

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