The Judiciary Committee of the California Assembly rewrote the content of their existing bill impacting digital accessibility, AB 1757. This change will empower both people with disabilities, as well as organizations struggling with vendors not creating accessible products, to move the needle on improving digital accessibility.
Introducing the new AB 1757
On June 12, 2023, the Judiciary Committee of the California Assembly rewrote the content of their existing bill impacting digital accessibility: AB 1757. According to a recent blog released by accessibility law firm Seyfarth, this change “…would effectively make WCAG 2.1 Level AA the required standard for websites and mobile apps of ‘business establishments’ covered by the Unruh Civil Rights Act.” (LLP, 2023)
AB 1757’s proposed changes could have impacts on legal website accessibility which could be far-reaching beyond the state of California. They may also propel the rights of those of us with disabilities, and those of us who purchase website and software services, forward.
What changes might AB 1757 bring?
There are three significant shifts the new AB 1757 could put into motion:
- WCAG 2.1 AA would replace the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as the standard for legal measurement.
Why this is significant: The ADA, a civil rights law, does not contain any specific website accessibility requirements. This has caused much confusion in the legal realm and has been attributed to a skyrocketing number of suits. The application of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as a measurement of accessibility will provide the lacking clarity to the website accessibility legal requirement. It may also help businesses who seek to be accessible, proactively avoid being sued.
- It doesn’t set a transition period or allow businesses to not comply with the law due to hardship.
Why this is significant: Over 30 years after the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, its legal application has meant that inaccessible website owners can be ignorant of this law. The onus is put on those of us with disabilities to identify inaccessible websites and legally warn their owners before legal action can be taken.It’s not difficult to conclude that this reluctance to enforce equal access to websites, is slowing down the process of getting everyone on board to make their sites accessible. Having website accessibility be the norm, and not the exception, is a boon for both the user and the businesses and organizations seeking to serve them.
- People with disabilities/organizations purchasing digital products, will be able to file suits against website creators and third party vendors who make inaccessible products. Why this is significant: The biggest struggle our clients face in making their websites accessible, is the resistance of vendors who create websites, and website plugins, to accessibility. Just yesterday I was speaking with a potential client who is seeking our help in attempting to coax their website creator into taking some of our classes, “…..so that at least get this on their radar and we stop having to fix everything in their wake.”
The point not to be missed here is that not only would this change to the law empower people with disabilities to move the needle on their own accessibility needs, it will also place power in the hands of organizations struggling with vendors who refuse to create accessible products.
Of each of the three major pieces in this proposed change, we believe that this one will be the most powerful. Creating a win for both the user and the organizations and businesses who serve them.
Whether the new language is passed or not, AB 1757 has raised points of discussion that have long needed to occur.
Read more about the ADA and WCAG 2.1 AA
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