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CA state agencies misapply ADA law, documents vanish from CA websites

File this under the law of unintended consequences. A California law passed in 2017 designed to make sure CA government agency websites were accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has had an unintended negative effect on CA agency Websites. The law simply states:

11546.7. (a) Before July 1, 2019, and before July 1 biennially thereafter, the director of each state agency or state entity, as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 11546.1, and each chief information officer appointed under Section 11546.1, shall post on the home page of the state agency’s or state entity’s Internet Web site a signed certification from the state agency’s or state entity’s director and chief information officer that they have determined that the Internet Web site is in compliance with Sections 7405 and 11135, and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, or a subsequent version, published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium at a minimum Level AA success criteria.

Sounds good right? But according to this Sacramento Bee article “Documents vanish from CA websites as state applies ADA law” this has happened:

Dozens of wildfire reports disappeared from Cal Fire’s website as this year’s fire season began.

Thousands of water science reports vanished from the Department of Water Resources website.

More than 2 million documents, ranging from environmental impact reports to internal human resources guides, went missing from remote corners of Caltrans’ website.

The documents are disappearing from public view as California state departments work to comply with a 2017 law aimed at improving compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It seems that some CA departments are choosing to take down thousands of documents rather than make them machine-readable or otherwise accessible. I’m sure this negative press will spur the CA government to provide more funding to state agencies to update their Websites. But in the meantime, if you’re looking for something published by the CA government, check out the Archive of the California Government Domain, CA.gov.

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