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.
More about California Government Code Section 11546.7 and AB 434
Government Code Section 7405 directs that state governmental entities
follow Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act requiring
accessibility of electronic and information technology.
More about California Government Code Section 7405
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.
More about California Government Code Section 11135
Federal Digital Accessibility Laws
Federal requirements are set forth in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
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
More about Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
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.
More about Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
OTHER RELATED LAWS AND REGULATIONS ON ACCESSIBILITY
Some additional federal and state laws, policies and guidelines related to accessibility can be found below.
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 Roles and Responsibilities 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 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.
More about the Section 508 Final Rule.
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/entitys website is in compliance with specified accessibility standards in accordance with Government Code Section 11546.7. IT Technology Letter 18-05 (PDF).
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
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
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.