The California legislative bill AB 1757, which is presently up for consideration, is poised to become a catalyst for an unprecedented increase in litigation against small businesses and tech companies. At first glance, AB 1757 appears to be a protective measure aimed at reducing litigation. However, a closer look reveals a different story, one that could drastically impact the survival of many small businesses and hinder innovation in the tech space.
AB 1757, born from a Gut & Amend of Bill AB 950, seeks to mandate that by January 1, 2024, all websites and applications must conform to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA. While the bill’s advocates argue that it promotes digital accessibility, its actual implications are more complex and potentially damaging.
- Litigation Risk: The bill allows attorneys to sue businesses for minor technical glitches, which could cost businesses tens of thousands of dollars for issues potentially beyond their control.
- Unfeasible Standards: It imposes the requirement for all tech companies to conform to WCAG 2.1 AA, a standard with no single, easy, or inexpensive testing criteria. This means even small missteps could lead to lawsuits, stifling innovation and creating legal liabilities for tech companies.
- Innovation Deterrent: The bill could also hurt innovation by requiring any new technology to comply with WCAG 2.1 AA, a standard that many believe is subjective and outdated. A website that does not conform to WCAG 2.1 AA could still be accessible, and one that does conform could still be inaccessible.
- Historical Context: The bill was initially presented as AB 950 but was halted in the appropriations committee. It was subsequently Gut & Amended, replacing the content of a different bill about judges, a practice that has received wide criticism.
The proposed legislation is set to be heard on July 11, 2023, and it is crucial that the word gets out now. If you share these concerns, there are ways to make your voice heard:
- Contact Lawmakers Now: Use our pre-prepared template and contact list to voice your concerns about AB 1757 to your local representatives, sponsors, and the media.
- Spread Awareness: Share this blog within your professional networks, on social media, and with industry groups. Inspire others to join the initiative to halt AB 1757.
- Get the Templates, Contact List, and Sign Our Petition: Head to www.stopab1757.com and digitally sign our petition opposing AB 1757. Every signature strengthens our collective voice.
It’s critical that we take action now to protect small businesses and promote innovation. By standing together, we can stop AB 1757 and ensure a business environment that fosters innovation, supports small businesses, and promotes fair and realistic accessibility standards.
Act now to stop AB 1757. Visit www.stopab1757.com to learn more and make a difference. Stand up for businesses, innovation, and fairness. Your voice matters.