Spawning new windows is covered in WCAG, Priority 2, Checkpoint 10.1 for accessibility, but if we’re going to make our sites that accessible, then we have to go in and add ACCESSKEY properties as well. Frankly, my view on that accessibility checkpoint (and I’m a strong advocate of web accessibility) is that it should only apply to actual pop-ups.
The standard accepted practice for nearly any website is that any link that leads offsite and doesn’t directly promote the interests, message, or other priorities of the originating site will open in a new window. That’s pretty much understood.
TARGET=”_blank” is just something that will have to be lived with. Accessibility can only go so far.