[Colorado-talk] Federal Judge Orders the National Conference of Bar Examiners to Provide Individualized Testing Accommodations to Blind Law School Graduate

Freeh, Jessica JFreeh at nfb.org
Thu Feb 11 11:43:33 UTC 2010



Chris Danielsen, National Federation of the Blind, (410) 659-9314, ext. 2330

Scott LaBarre, LaBarre Law Offices, P.C., (303) 504-5979

Daniel Goldstein, Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP, (410) 962-1030

Anna Levine, Disability Rights Advocates, (510) 665-8644

Federal Judge Orders the National Conference of Bar Examiners
to Provide Individualized Testing Accommodations

to Blind Law School Graduate

San Francisco, California (February 5, 2010):  A federal court has 
ruled that the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) will cause 
a blind law school graduate irreparable harm unless it provides her 
the technology-based testing accommodations she needs to take two 
exams required to become a member of the State Bar of 
California.  The court issued its ruling in an order granting the law 
school graduate's motion for preliminary injunction on Thursday, 
February 4, 2010.  The court's ruling allows the plaintiff, Stephanie 
Enyart, to take the February 2010 Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) 
and March 2010 Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination 
(MPRE) on a laptop computer equipped with the assistive technology 
software Ms. Enyart relies upon for screen reading (JAWS) and screen 
magnification (ZoomText).

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, 
said: "The National Federation of the Blind is extremely pleased with 
the ruling in this case.  Law and equity simply do not permit the 
NCBE to dictate a one-size-fits-all solution for all bar candidates 
with disabilities.  We hope that this ruling will cause the NCBE to 
think long and hard before it denies the requested accommodations of 
applicants to take its examinations."

The plaintiff, Stephanie Enyart, said: "A little over a year ago I 
sent my first request for accommodations on the March 2009 MPRE, and 
tonight I can go to sleep knowing when and how I can effectively take 
the exams to fulfill my dreams."

Anna Levine of Disability Rights Advocates, an attorney representing 
the plaintiff, said: "I hope that our hard-fought victory here will 
send a message to testing organizations that they need to comply with 
the ADA and provide each individual test taker with a disability the 
accommodations that he or she needs to demonstrate his or her actual 
knowledge, skills, and abilities."

The suit was filed on November 3, 2009, due to the NCBE's refusal, on 
multiple occasions during the past year, to allow Ms. Enyart to use 
the same technology on the MBE and MPRE that she has used on 
university and law school exams and in various jobs and 
internships.  The suit charged that the NCBE violated the Americans 
with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California's Unruh Civil Rights Act 
by denying accommodations on the MBE and the MPRE.

NCBE had argued that it fulfilled its legal obligations to Ms. Enyart 
by offering alternative accommodations, such as a human reader, 
notwithstanding evidence that these alternatives did not, in fact, 
accommodate Ms. Enyart's disability.  In rejecting NCBE's argument, 
the court's ruling paves the way for other individuals prevented from 
pursuing their professional dreams by high stakes testing providers 
who take a rigid approach to disability accommodations.

The plaintiff is represented with the support of the National 
Federation of the Blind by LaBarre Law Offices, P.C., in Denver, 
Colorado, and by Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP, in Baltimore, 
Maryland.  The plaintiff is further represented by Disability Rights 
Advocates, a nonprofit law center that specializes in civil rights 
cases on behalf of persons with disabilities, based in Berkeley, California.


About the National Federation of the Blind

With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind 
(NFB) 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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