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California State Web Accessibility Laws

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    California is one of the leading advocates of web accessibility in the US, with state laws and public policies which refer directly to the federal law Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

    Section 508 outlines specific accommodations that are required to make electronic communications and information technologies accessible to people with disabilities. The Section 508 refresh adds more clarity to web accessibility rules by making WCAG 2.0 the standard of choice.

    The California Government Code §11135(d) requires that all electronic and information technology created or used by the state must be fully accessible. It acknowledges that:

    There are various types of physical disabilities that impact user interaction on the web. Vision loss, hearing loss, limited manual dexterity, and cognitive disabilities are examples, with each having different means by which to access electronic information effectively. Our goal is to provide a good web experience for all visitors.


    California State University outlines a fairly comprehensive web accessibility policy, with specific enforcement measures to ensure compliance with Section 508. To enforce this, the state uses software to automatically evaluate the accessibility of a website; human due diligence is encouraged in addition.

    The university’s robust FAQ page spells out the benefits and characteristics of an accessible website, including “transcripts or captions for audio, video, and multimedia content.”

    California Community Colleges’ Online Education Initiative offers resources to help state schools make their online documents, videos, and files accessible to students with disabilities.

    California Government Code §11546.7

    On October 14, 2017 the California government passed California Government Code §11546.7.

    The new law states that by July 1, 2019, state agencies and state entities must ensure their websites comply with “WCAG 2.0 Level AA, or a subsequent version, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.”

    “Subsequent version” demonstrates that the state is allowing for future adoptions of the standards beyond WCAG 2.0, and therefore state agencies and entities must adapt accordingly.

    In addition, state agencies and state entities must include a certification of compliance with the new law on their home page.

    WCAG 2.0 Level A and Level AA Success Criteria Under Section 508, state government websites  must meet WCAG 2.0 Level A and Level AA success criteria by January 18, 2018. PERCEIVABLE Text alternatives. Time-based media including captions and audio description for live and prerecorded video.Adaptability meaning content can be presented in multiple ways without losing information. Distinguishable including audio control, text resize, minimum contrast, use of color, and images of text. OPERABLE Keyboard accessible Enough time for users to read and use content
 Seizures meaning three flashes or below threshold. Navigable including bypass blocks, page titles, focused order, links with context on purpose, multiple ways to locate web page, headings, labels, visible keyboard focus indicator. UNDERSTANDABLE Readable Predictable meaning focused and consistent appearance and operation of web pages. Input assistance including error identification, labels, instructions, error suggestion, and error prevention. ROBUST Compatible with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.

    Learn About Other U.S. State Accessibility Laws

    Click on the map below to learn more about captioning and web accessibility laws in other states.


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    This article was originally posted on September 25, 2015 by Emily Griffin and has been updated.


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