TechCrunch and The Register are both reporting on the court case which pit Target against the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and Bruce Sexton, a blind man who sued the company saying that the website was not in line with national and state laws which mandate accessibility for the disabled. There are still a number of issues including whether or not national laws are as broad as the laws in the state of California but the general gist is that websites are under more and more scrutiny for accessibility and coming under laws that govern an equal experience for those with disabilities.
I think this is a fascinating topic and one that will have huge implications for RIAs. I'm totally in favor of having the laws apply to websites. Desktop applications have traditionally been very good about accessibility but what's interesting is the blending of the two. Most RIAs would qualify as websites under the law (in this case) and as a result would be required to be accessible. I've talked a bit about this in the past, but it's clear it will become a bigger issue in the future.
Flex and Flash have started to address accessibility issues and Silverlight also has some accessibility support. But one of the huge advantages of web standards has been its high level of support for accessibility and a community focus on being compliant with section 508, an amendment to The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which focused on making technology accessible to the disabled. Obviously not all Web 2.0 sites that use web standards are automatically accessible, but because of the community and the resources, it may make a difference for companies choosing an RIA technology. This is definitely something to track.
W3C Roadmap for Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA)
Accessibility in Silverlight
Accessibility in Flex and Flash
Accessible Rich Internet Applications at the Mozilla dev center
Niqui Merret's blog on Flash and Accessibility