[Greater-baltimore] National Conference of Bar Examiners Discriminates Against Blind Law School Graduates

Freeh, Jessica JFreeh at nfb.org
Thu Jun 3 00:49:58 UTC 2010



Chris Danielsen

Director of Public Relations

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

cdanielsen at nfb.org

National Conference of Bar Examiners Discriminates
Against <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = 
"urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Blind Law School Graduates

Blind Law School Graduates File Complaint Against NCBE

Baltimore, Maryland (June 2, 2010): Three blind 
law school graduates registered to take the 
Maryland general bar exam in July 2010­Timothy R. 
Elder, Anne P. Blackfield, and Michael B. 
Witwer­filed a complaint today against the 
National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) for 
violation of the Americans with Disabilities 
Act.  The complaint was filed because the 
Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a section of 
the General Bar Examination that is offered and 
disseminated through the NCBE, is inaccessible to 
the blind.  Recent law school graduates must take 
and pass the General Bar Examination to qualify 
to practice law in the state of Maryland.

Each plaintiff asked the Maryland State Board of 
Law Examiners to take all parts of the General 
Bar Examination, including the MBE, on a computer 
equipped with screen access software, which 
converts what is on the screen into synthesized 
speech and magnified text.  The Maryland Board 
agreed to grant the accommodations for the MBE if 
NCBE allowed it to do so.  NCBE, however, refuses 
to allow the requested accommodations.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National 
Federation of the Blind, said: “As we have said 
before, those who control admission to the 
practice of law must themselves obey the law.  It 
is unconscionable that NCBE would engage in 
blatant discrimination against the blind and deny 
graduates the accommodations that they need to 
compete on an equal playing field with their 
sighted peers.  We will work tirelessly to ensure 
that all blind people are given their lawful 
right to take the bar exam and continue with their respective careers.”

The plaintiffs are represented with the support 
of the National Federation of the Blind by Daniel 
F. Goldstein and Mehgan Sidhu of the Baltimore 
firm Brown, Goldstein, and Levy; Laurence W. 
Paradis, Anna Levine, and Karla Gilbride of the 
Berkley firm Disability Rights Advocates; and 
Scott C. LaBarre of the Denver firm LaBarre Law Offices.


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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