[Colorado-talk] LSAC Discriminates Against Blind Law School Applicants

Freeh, Jessica JFreeh at nfb.org
Fri Feb 20 19:06:22 UTC 2009



Chris Danielsen

Director of Public Relations

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
<mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org>cdanielsen at nfb.org

LSAC Discriminates Against Blind Law School Applicants

National Federation of the Blind Sues Law School Admissions Council 
for Inaccessible Web Site and LSAT Preparation Materials

Baltimore, Maryland (February 19, 2009): The National Federation of 
the Blind, the nation's oldest and largest organization of blind 
people; its California affiliate; and a blind law school applicant, 
Deepa Goraya, are filing a lawsuit today against the Law School 
Admissions Council (LSAC).  The complaint asserts that the LSAC, the 
body that administers the Law School Admissions Test (which most 
aspiring law students must take) and provides other services to law 
schools and law school applicants, violates the California Disabled 
Persons Act and the Unruh Act because its Web site (www.lsac.org) and 
LSAT preparation materials are inaccessible to blind law school 
applicants.  The plaintiffs have attempted to meet with the LSAC to 
resolve the matter, but the LSAC canceled a planned meeting.

Blind people access Web sites on computers equipped with screen 
access software that converts what is on the screen into synthesized 
speech or Braille.  The keyboard is used instead of a mouse to 
navigate the Web site and click on selected links or buttons. If a 
Web site is improperly coded, however, blind computer users cannot 
access the site.  Blind people can also use screen readers to access 
certain kinds of electronic documents, including those in the popular 
Portable Document Format (PDF).  However, if PDF files are not 
properly "tagged," they cannot be used by the blind.  The LSAC Web 
site contains accessibility barriers including improperly formatted 
online forms, tables and charts that cannot be read by screen access 
software, and faulty keyboard navigation support.  These access 
barriers make it difficult or impossible for blind people to use the 
Web site to register to take the LSAT, among other things.  The Web 
site is also the only avenue for people to apply online to any law 
school accredited by

the American Bar Association.  However, blind applicants cannot 
submit their applications without sighted assistance because the 
application forms are improperly formatted.  In addition, none of the 
LSAT practice materials, which include previously administered 
versions of the test that sighted people can obtain on the LSAC Web 
site, are available in accessible electronic formats.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, 
said: "The Internet is extremely useful to blind people, as well as 
our sighted peers, when Web sites are properly formatted according to 
well-established guidelines; there is no good reason for any Web site 
offering goods and services to the public to be inaccessible to blind 
people.  For too long, blind people have experienced barriers to 
entering the legal profession, despite our long history of 
demonstrated success in that field.  The National Federation of the 
Blind will not sit quietly while the LSAC willfully refuses to 
provide the same services to blind people seeking admission to law 
school that it does to the sighted.  The LSAC is engaging in blatant 
discrimination against the blind and we will not stand for it."

Deepa Goraya, a law school applicant and named plaintiff in the suit, 
said: "Trying to use the LSAC Web site made the experience of 
applying to law school a nightmare when it should have been as easy 
for me as for anyone else.  I had to select and rely upon a reader 
for over fifty hours to complete my law school applications.  Also, 
none of the practice tests available on the Web site were 
accessible.  I want the process of gaining admission to law school to 
be easier for all blind people who are interested in entering this 
noble profession, and I hope this action will achieve that goal."


About the National Federation of the Blind

With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind 
is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind 
people in the United States.  The NFB improves blind people's lives 
through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs 
encouraging independence and self-confidence.  It is the leading 
force in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation's 
blind.  In January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of the 
Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in 
the United States for the blind led by the blind.

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