Bill Text


PDF |Add To My Favorites |Track Bill | print page

AB-2123 Accessibility: internet website.(2019-2020)

SHARE THIS:share this bill in Facebookshare this bill in Twitter
Date Published: 04/27/2020 09:00 PM
AB2123:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  May 04, 2020
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 10, 2020

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 2123


Introduced by Assembly Member Chau

February 06, 2020


An act to amend the heading of Part 2.53 (commencing with Section 55.55) of Division 1 of the Civil Code, to add Section 55.565 to the Civil Code, and to amend Sections 4469.5 and 14985.6 of the Government Code, relating to accessibility.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 2123, as amended, Chau. Accessibility: internet website.
(1) Existing law imposes liability upon a person who denies, aids or incites a denial, or makes any discrimination or distinction contrary to rights afforded by law, for actual damages suffered, exemplary damages, a civil penalty, and attorney’s fees, as specified, to any person who was denied the specified rights. Existing law also imposes liability upon a person, firm, or corporation that denies or interferes with admittance to or enjoyment of public facilities or otherwise interferes with the rights of an individual with a disability, as specified, for damages and attorney’s fees to a person who was denied those rights. Existing law establishes in state government the California Commission on Disability Access which is required to provide information regarding preventing or minimizing problems of compliance by California businesses by providing educational services, including outreach efforts, and by preparing and hosting on its internet website a Guide to Compliance with State Laws and Regulations Regarding Disability Access Requirements.
This bill would specify that statutory damages based upon the inaccessibility of internet website under these provisions shall only be recovered against an entity, as defined, if the internet website fails to provide equally effective communication and or facilitate full and equal enjoyment of the entity’s goods and services to the public. The bill would, in order for a plaintiff to be entitled to statutory damages for internet website inaccessibility, require the plaintiff to prove that they personally encountered a barrier that interfered with their ability to access all or part of the entity’s internet website and that caused them to experience a difference in their access to, or use of, the website as compared to other users such that they were unable to acquire the same information, engage in the same interaction, or enjoy the same services with substantially equivalent ease of use, or have the same level of privacy and independence as other users who are not disabled, or that they were deterred from accessing all or part of the internet website because of the website’s failure to provide equally effective communication or to facilitate full and equal enjoyment of the entity’s goods and services to all members of the public. The bill would specify that an internet website is presumed to provide equally effective communication for the purpose of an award of minimum statutory damages, as specified, if the internet website complies with specified standards for the accessibility of an internet website established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Accessibility Guidelines Working Group. The bill would require the California Commission on Disability Access to review those standards to determine whether they are the most up-to-date standards for effective communication by means of internet websites, and to notify the Legislature if they are not up to date and should be revised. The bill would also make other conforming changes.
(2) Existing law requires each city, county, or city and county that issues business licenses, building permits for additions, alterations, and structural repairs to commercial property, or building permits for new construction of commercial property to make available, and, upon receipt of an application for a business license or building permit to provide to the applicant, an informational notice to the applicant containing, among other things, general information about the compliance requirements pursuant to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the state’s disability access laws.
This bill would also require the information about the compliance requirements pursuant to the state’s disability access laws to include a statement that a business’ internet website is required to be accessible, and to provide equally effective communication or facilitate full and equal enjoyment of the entity’s goods and services, to the public, including any member of the public who is disabled.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The heading of Part 2.53 (commencing with Section 55.55) of Division 1 of the Civil Code is amended to read:

PART 2.53. ATTORNEY’S FEES AND STATUTORY DAMAGES IN ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS CLAIMS

SEC. 2.

 Section 55.565 is added to the Civil Code, immediately following Section 55.56, to read:

55.565.
 (a) Statutory damages under subdivision (a) of either Section 52 or Section 54.3 shall only be recovered against an entity based upon the inaccessibility of an internet website of that entity if the internet website fails to provide equally effective communication and or facilitate full and equal enjoyment of the entity’s goods and services to the public, including any member of the public who is disabled.
(b) To be entitled to statutory damages for internet website inaccessibility, a plaintiff must prove one of the following:
(1) That the plaintiff personally encountered a barrier that did both of the following:
(A) Interfered with their ability to access all or part of the entity’s internet website.
(B) Caused the plaintiff to experience a difference in their ability to access or use the website as compared to other users such that the plaintiff was unable to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, or enjoy the same services with substantially equivalent ease of use, or to have the same level of privacy and independence as other users who are not disabled.
(2) That the plaintiff was deterred from accessing all or part of the website because of the website’s failure to provide equally effective communication or to facilitate full and equal enjoyment of the entity’s goods and services to all members of the public.
(c) (1) An internet website is presumed to provide equally effective communication for the purpose of an award of minimum statutory damages, as set forth in subdivision (a) of Section 52 or 54.3, if the internet website complies with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA standard for the accessibility of internet websites established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Accessibility Guidelines Working Group on June 5, 2018, or any more stringent subsequent update, revision, or replacement to WCAG published by the W3C.
(2) The presumption set forth in paragraph (1) affects the plaintiff’s burden of proof and is rebuttable by evidence showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, the elements of one of the violations set forth in subdivision (b).
(d) This section is not intended to limit do either of the following:
(1) Limit the rights and remedies available to disabled persons under federal law, or any other state law.
(2) Affect whether an entity is responsible under either Section 51 or Section 51.5 for making its premises accessible to all members of the public, including the disabled and including by means of accessing the entity’s internet website.
(e) For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:
(1) “Entity” means a business establishment that is open to the public, a public place, or a place of public accommodation.
(2) “Internet website” includes all internet web-based technology, including, but not limited to, a mobile application or app that can be accessed by a mobile device.

SEC. 3.

 Section 4469.5 of the Government Code is amended to read:

4469.5.
 (a) In addition to the information required by Section 4469, each city, county, or city and county that issues business licenses, building permits for additions, alterations, and structural repairs to commercial property, or building permits for new construction of commercial property, shall make readily available, and, upon submission to the city, county, or city and county of an application for a business license or building permit, shall provide to the applicant, an informational notice to the applicant containing all of the following:
(1) General information about the compliance requirements pursuant to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12101 et seq.) and the state’s disability access laws. Information about compliance with the state’s disability access laws shall include a statement that pursuant to Section 51 of the Civil Code, a business’ internet website is required to be accessible, and to provide equally effective communication or and facilitate full and equal enjoyment of the entity’s goods and services, to the public, including any member of the public who is disabled.
(2) An advisory to the applicant for a building permit that strongly encourages the applicant to do both of the following:
(A) Obtain a consultation by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) before alteration or construction in order for the property to be in compliance with disability access laws after the work is completed, so that the applicant can benefit from the advantages of compliance.
(B) Obtain an inspection by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) after alteration or construction in order to benefit from the legal protections afforded business and property owners under the Construction-Related Accessibility Compliance Act (Part 2.52 (commencing with Section 55.51) of Division 1 of the Civil Code).
(3) An advisory to the applicant for a business license that strongly encourages the applicant to do both of the following:
(A) Obtain a consultation by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) before engaging in business on the premises in order for the property to be in compliance with disability access laws, so that the applicant can benefit from the advantages of compliance.
(B) Obtain an inspection by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) after beginning to engage in business on the premises in order to benefit from the legal protections afforded business and property owners under the Construction-Related Accessibility Compliance Act (Part 2.52 (commencing with Section 55.51) of Division 1 of the Civil Code).
(4) Information about how to locate CASp inspectors, including a link to the internet website of the State Architect where CASp inspectors are listed, pursuant to Section 4459.8, by geographic area in which they provide or intend to provide services and information about how to obtain CASp services.
(5) A notice of the federal and state programs that are available to assist small businesses with disability compliance and access expenditures, including, but not limited to, Section 44 of the Internal Revenue Code (disabled access credit for eligible small businesses); Section 190 of the Internal Revenue Code (deduction for expenditures to remove architectural and transportation barriers); the California Capital Access Program Americans with Disabilities Act Financing Program (CalCAP/ADA); and the Disabled Access Credit for Eligible Small Businesses specified in Sections 17053.42 and 23642 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.
(6) A link to the homepage and the resource page of the California Commission on Disability Access.
(b) The informational notice specified in subdivision (a) shall be translated and made available in all of the languages specified in paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 1632 of the Civil Code and shall be provided to the applicant in whichever format the building permit or business license application is required to be submitted.
(c) For purposes of this section, the term “commercial property” means property that is operating, or is intended to be operated, as a “place of public accommodation” as defined in Section 202 of Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations, or as a facility to which the general public is invited at those premises.
(d) (1) The Division of the State Architect shall develop a model notice that local agencies can use to comply with the requirements of this section.
(2) The Division of the State Architect shall post the model notice on the publicly available portion of the division’s internet website.

SEC. 4.

 Section 14985.6 of the Government Code is amended to read:

14985.6.
 (a) A priority of the commission shall be the development and dissemination of educational materials and information to promote and facilitate disability access compliance.
(b) The commission shall work with other state agencies, including the Division of the State Architect and the Department of Rehabilitation, to develop educational materials and information for use by businesses to understand their obligations to provide disability access and to facilitate compliance with construction-related accessibility standards.
(c) The commission shall develop and make available on its internet website, or make available on its internet website if developed by another governmental agency, including Americans with Disabilities Act centers, toolkits or educational modules to assist a California business to understand its obligations under the law and to facilitate compliance with respect to the top 10 alleged construction-related violations, by type, as specified in subdivision (a) of Section 14985.8. Upon completion of this requirement, the commission shall develop and make available on its internet website, or work with another agency to develop, other toolkits or educational modules that would educate businesses of the accessibility requirements and to facilitate compliance with that requirement.
(d) The commission shall post the following on its internet website:
(1) Educational materials and information that will assist building owners, tenants, building officials, and building inspectors to understand the disability accessibility requirements and to facilitate compliance with disability access laws. The commission shall at least annually review the educational materials and information on disability access requirements and compliance available on the internet website of other local, state, or federal agencies, including Americans with Disabilities Act centers, to augment the educational materials and information developed by the commission.
(2) A link to the internet website of the Division of the State Architect’s certified access specialist (CASp) program to assist building owners and tenants in locating or hiring a CASp.
(e) The commission shall, to the extent feasible, coordinate with other state agencies and local building departments to ensure that information provided to the public on disability access requirements is uniform and complete, and make its educational materials and information available to those agencies and departments.
(f) The commission shall, at a frequency determined by the commission, review the standards established pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (d) of Section 55.565 of the Civil Code to determine whether they are the most up-to-date standards for effective communication by means of an internet website and, within 30 days of determining that the standards are not up to date and should be revised, notify the Speaker of the Assembly and President pro Tempore of the Senate and the Chairs of the Assembly and Senate Committees on Judiciary, of its determination.