How to Achieve ADA Compliance in California
California is the largest state in the United States with a population of almost 40 million. Aside from this, it’s also known as the state with the toughest laws.
For instance, California’s gun law is one of the country’s strictest gun laws. The state also has the strictest online privacy law.
That said, Web accessibility in California is no different and lawsuits are on the rise.
So, if you own a website or sell to residents from California, it’s important to ensure that your website is accessible to everyone. The way to become accessible is to follow the WCAG guidelines at level AA.
Recommended Tools for ADA Compliance in California
You can start with a free website scan that takes less than 15 seconds (in most cases) before beginning the remediation process with the help of tools such as accessiBe and UserWay.
- Section 508
accessiBe is known for its simplicity and the speed at which it can identify accessibility issues on your website with the help of AI technology. Using this tool will ensure your site is compliant with ADA, WCAG, and Section 508 requirements.
- Account managers available to guide you through the product, pricing, and any questions you may have
- Fast turnaround with a 5 min installation, and 48-hour compliance process
- 100,000+ clients use accessiBe including legal and government organizations
- Includes accessibility statement and certification
- Built specifically for websites and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)- some web apps might not be compatible
- Section 508
Another automated, AI-powered tool that comes highly recommended is UserWay. Once installed, your site will be compliant with Section 508, ADA Title II, and WCAG 2.1 requirements. Your website visitors will also have access to a UserWay panel, which will allow them to modify the front end of your website to create a more personalized experience as a disabled user.
- Quick and easy process
- 1M+ website installations
- Affordable cost & dynamic pricing
- Multiple solutions and services offered
- Customer support is lacking
Comparison of the ADA Compliance Tools
Before we delve further into the acts that impact businesses in California and the steps you can take to comply, here are some accessibility tools that come highly recommended.
|Technology||Fully automated web accessibility solution||Fully automated web accessibility solution||Manual accessibility solutions||Automated|
|Compliant in Countries|
|Compliance||WCAG, ADA, Section 508, AODA||WCAG, ADA, Section 508, AODA||WCAG, ADA, Section 508, AODA||WCAG, ADA, Section 508, AODA|
$49 per month
$49 per month
|Partner Program (for Web Agencies)|
|Customer support||Email only||Email only||Email and call|
Free demo available
Free demo available
Free demo available
Free demo not available
7 day free trial |
No credit card needed
10 day free trial|
Credit card required
The focus of this article will be on:
- Background of ADA Compliance in California
- ADA Lawsuit Rates in California
- California AB 434 and the WCAG Guidelines
- The Unruh Act
- California Consumer Privacy Act
- Risk and Benefits of California Website Accessibility Compliance and Non-Compliance
- How to Know if Your Website Meets California Accessibility Standards
- Frequently Asked Questions
As mentioned, California is a hot spot for lawsuits related to ADA compliance for websites because the state has civil rights acts that align with the ADA.
In this section, we’ll dive deeper into ADA compliance California,
California is committed to providing equal rights for people of all physical abilities.
Besides ADA federal requirements, California has implemented its own accessibility requirements. For instance, businesses aren’t only required to comply with the ADA; they’re also mandated to comply with the California Building Standards Code (CBC). The CBC incorporates accessibility requirements based on the ADA standards. This code addresses physical accessibility in buildings and facilities, ensuring that they are designed and constructed to be usable by individuals with disabilities.
ADA laws are becoming more stringent in California, making it one of the most active legal spaces concerning website accessibility
California has a reputation for being especially litigious when it comes to enforcing ADA laws.
According to California law, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights violation. The Unruh Act allows for statutory damages of $4,000 for each denial of public accommodation, and additional attorney’s fees.
California has state laws related to accessibility
As we’ve mentioned, it’s not only ADA compliance but also compliance with state laws. For instance, the state has the Unruh Act and the CCPA, which we’ll discuss later. Additionally, the California Disabled Persons Act (CDPA) is a state law that specifically addresses the rights of individuals with disabilities and requires websites and digital services to be accessible with disabilities. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination in employment, including discrimination based on disability.
Between 2017 and 2019, there was a staggering 177% rise in ADA lawsuits across the country.web
Statistics also showed an increase in lawsuits in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, lawsuits have increased by 12% from 2019.
Given the strict mandate in California, many individuals, businesses, and brands have had to face ADA compliance California lawsuits. In 2020, the state recorded 223 ADA website compliance California lawsuits followed by 360 in the year 2021.
While these are a lot less than New York, these numbers don’t include demand letters that reach court.
ADA website compliance California AB 434 requires all state agencies in California to ensure that their websites conform to Level AA standards of WCAG 2.0. This also include contractors working for these agencies.
The level AA standards of the WCAG 2.0 have four criteria:
A website is perceivable if its content and user interface can be perceived by one or more senses.
A website is considered operable if all users can navigate the website effectively using a variety of assistive technology.
A website is considered understandable if both its content and user interface are easy to understand.
A website is robust if standard web browsers and assistive technologies can interpret it.
Additionally, California state agencies must display a signed certification on their homepages to conform to Level AA of WCAG 2.0.
You can check where your website stands and if it conforms to WCAG 2.0 for free
Scan your website for accessibility related issues for free
In addition to ADA compliance California, there is another law to protect differently-abled people – the Unruh Act.
Officially known as the California Civil Code section 5, the Unruh act is the law that prohibits discrimination from business establishments. It was enacted in 1959 and was later amended in 1992 to apply to persons with disabilities.
Because of the Unruh Act, the violation of ADA is a violation of the Unruh Act. That said, any website that is not ADA-compliant will violate federal law and the Unruh act.
If you win your lawsuit, you’re entitled to up to 3x the actual damages and at least $4,000 in statutory damages. Additionally, these damages include emotional distress.
On the other hand, plaintiffs are only entitled to attorney’s fees and injunctive relief under the ADA. Meaning that it’s more lucrative to file accessibility claims in California because the penalties are higher.
CCPA is another law related to accessibility. The CCPA requires that businesses give their customers the right to know how they use their personal information.
These include details like email and shopping history. Though CCPA mainly focuses on consumer rights, notices, and processes, businesses often ignore accessibility requirements.
A clause in the Act requires business privacy policies to be “reasonably accessible” to people with disabilities. Moreover, they should conform to WCAG 2.1 Level AA.
Here are a few examples of the CCPA’s accessibility requirements:
- A website and its components should function with screen readers;
- Businesses must provide notices in an alternative format for people with disabilities if the notice is not online; and
- Websites should provide alternative text for non-text content like videos.
ADA non-compliance in other states requires you to pay attorney’s fees. However, a violation of the Unruh Act can result in a minimum of $4,000 in damages.
On the other hand, you can benefit if your website complies with all accessibility standards. For instance, there is less legal risk associated with meeting Unruh website compliance.
Additionally, there’s the prospect of reaching a larger audience. Not only that, but you also help differently-abled people by providing a great user experience.
As a website owner, you must expect that at least one of your visitors might have a disability.
There are several ways to find out whether you website is ADA compliant:
Perform a website audit
Auditing your website helps you identify accessibility issues. Thus, performing one is critical to maintaining an accessible website.
Make your digital assets ADA and WCAG compliant
You can easily comply with the ADA and the WCAG if your site’s elements meet the necessary standards. For instance, you can use proper headings and alt text.
Using ADA tools and resources to ensure ADA compliance in California
California is a state that places great importance on accessibility requirements. Because of this, they’ll hold you accountable if you’re not interested in adopting these standards on your site.
Making your website ADA compliant and following WCAG guidelines is beneficial for businesses and individuals.
It can increase your number of prospective clients and visitors and also enhance your brand value. Most importantly, it can save you from expensive lawsuits.
It’s important to take all the necessary actions to make your website ADA compliant to avoid any issues. You can begin by conducting an audit of your website on Accessibility Checker.
If you found this article on website ADA compliance California insightful, we recommend checking out our other posts on ADA compliance.
The ADA requires all businesses, including those not open to the public, to comply with accessible design standards.
Privately-run companies and nonprofit or charitable organizations serving the public or employing at least 15 people must be ADA compliant.
In California, any violation of the ADA is a civil rights violation. It carries a minimum statutory penalty of $4,000, plus attorney’s fees.
Additionally, the ADA gives people with disabilities the right to file lawsuits in Federal court and obtain court orders to stop violations. Meaning businesses are subject to ADA violations regardless of where they live.
Religious organizations and private clubs need not comply with the ADA. Additionally, ADA doesn’t apply to entities that are historically exempt from federal laws.