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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.
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.
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).
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. Individuals or businesses that violate the ADA are subject to a minimum statutory penalty of $4,000 and additional attorney’s fees.
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.
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.
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 understandable if both its content and user interface are easy to understand.
Additionally, California state agencies must display a signed certification on their homepages to conform to Level AA of WCAG 2.0.
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.
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 Unrah 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.
Auditing your website helps you identify accessibility issues. Thus, performing one is critical to maintaining an accessible website.
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.
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.
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