It's interesting to see that 'Target', a large US retail operator, has just agreed to pay $6 million and make its Web site more accessible to the visually impaired by next year, to settle a class-action dispute with the National Federation of the Blind.
Clearly it makes sense for lobby groups to target high profile organisations for infringement of the US's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) this way they get lots of publicity for their cause.
To date, there have been no convictions under the UK's Disability Discrimination Act for failure to make a web site accessible - all cases have been settled out of court. However, it can only be a matter of time before such a case is brought. It is still sadly the case that very few sites conform to the W3C standards even at the most basic level. We often audit sites that claim A or AA compliance only to find accessibility issues in these categories.
Over reliance on automated auditing, rather than manual checking can be one reason for this, inappropriate interpretation of the W3C guidelines is another.
To my mind having an inaccessible web site is, in most cases, pretty inexcusable. If accessibility is thought about during the development process it is no harder to make site accessible than not - it just needs to be taken into account, like you would in a building when you build it. It needn't cost any more, indeed it might even save money.
Because so many major UK sites still have poor accessibility it can only be a matter of time before there is a similar case in the UK and the site owners will only have themselves to blame - it will almost certainly mean that they simply have not taken the issue seriously.