State Digital Accessibility Laws
There are three interrelated government code sections that inform state policy on digital accessibility.
Before July 1, 2019, and before July 1 biennially thereafter, the director of each state agency or entity and the chief information officer of that state agency or entity must post on the home page of the agency's or entity's Internet Web site a signed certification that the agency's or entity's Internet Web site is in compliance with specified accessibility standards. AB 434 was signed by Governor Brown on October 14, 2017 and was assigned the chapter number 11546.7 by the Secretary of State.
Government Code Section 7405 directs that state governmental entities follow Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act requiring accessibility of electronic and information technology.
Government Code Section 11135 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, ethnic group identification, age, mental disability, physical disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation, be unlawfully denied full and equal access to the benefits of, or be unlawfully subjected to discrimination under, any program or activity that is conducted, operated, or administered by the state or by any state agency, is funded directly by the state, or receives any financial assistance from the state. Additional information is available from the California Civil Rights Department's Employment Discrimination page.
Federal Digital Accessibility Laws
Federal requirements are set forth in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Section 508 Of the Rehabilitation Act – Electronic and Information Technology
In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, open new opportunities for people with disabilities, and encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. ‘794 d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to access available to others.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are part of a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the Internet.
OTHER RELATED LAWS AND REGULATIONS ON ACCESSIBILITY
Some additional federal and state laws, policies and guidelines related to accessibility can be found below.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Accessibility should be the responsibility of every person in the chain of content creation, review, approval, distribution and posting content to the website. Check out Getting Started with Accessibility as the starting point to find out what you and other agency staff are required to do to comply with AB 434, Government Code Section 11546.7.
Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act
Section 255 of the Communications Act, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, requires telecommunications products and services to be accessible to people with disabilities. Manufacturers must ensure that products are “designed, developed, and fabricated to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities” when it is readily achievable to do so. Examples of telecommunications products covered include wired and wireless telecommunication devices, such as telephones (including pay phones and cellular phones), pagers, and fax machines, other products that have a telecommunication service capability, such as computers with modems, equipment that carriers use to provide services, such as a phone company’s switching equipment. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for enforcing the Communications Act and has issued regulations that contain requirements based on the Board’s guidelines.
On January 18, 2017, the Board published a final rule that updates the Section 255 Guidelines along with accessibility standards for information and communication technology in the federal sector covered by section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The final rule jointly updates and reorganizes the Section 508 standards and Section 255 guidelines in response to market trends and innovations, such as the convergence of technologies.
Office of the State CIO, Information Technology (IT) Policy Letter
Agencies shall ensure compliance with laws, regulations, and policies regarding accessibility to digital content and to IT applications for state employees and the public in accordance with Section 4833 of the State Administrative Manual (PDF). IT Technology Letter 10-10 (PDF).
Starting July 1, 2019 and biennially thereafter, Chief Information Officers shall certify their Agency/entity's website is in compliance with specified accessibility standards in accordance with Government Code Section 11546.7. IT Technology Letter 18-05 (PDF).
California Technology Agency, IT Accessibility Resource Guide SIMM Section 25
This Resource Guide is intended to provide an overview of digital accessibility, drawing from and identifying the extensive information already available. Federal and state governments, as well as the higher education communities, have been working even before the enactment of Section 508 in 1998 to improve the accessibility of electronic and information technology for persons with disabilities.
The Resource Guide references excerpted quotes applicable to the topics discussed, along with links to the source materials for further reference. In many cases, additional links to specific language on accessibility requirements or policies are also included for individuals interested in pursuing the topics further.
More about SIMM Section 25 (PDF).
CDT Website Accessibility Certification form in SIMM Section 25
Department of General Services Management Memo 03-08
One of the most important components of accessibility is ensuring that any communication with persons with disabilities is as effective as communications with others. Many people with disabilities require alternate formats beyond conventional print to have the same access to information. Appropriate auxiliary aids and services need to be provided where necessary to afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity conducted by a public entity.
More about Alternate Formats 03-08.