[Nfbk] FW: Law Schools Discriminate Against Blind Applicants

Cathy cathyj at iglou.com
Thu Jun 10 22:15:31 UTC 2010

-----Original Message-----
From: Freeh, Jessica [mailto:JFreeh at nfb.org]
Sent: Wednesday, June 09, 2010 10:39 AM
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Patti Chang; Rena Smith; Richard Gaffney; Ron Brown; Ron Gardner; Sam
Gleese; Scott LaBarre; Selena Sundling-Crawford
Subject: Law Schools Discriminate Against Blind Applicants



Chris Danielsen

Director of Public Relations

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

cdanielsen at nfb.org

Law Schools Discriminate Against Blind Applicants
National Federation of the Blind Files Suit Against Four California Law

San Francisco, California (June 9, 2010): The National Federation of the
Blind (NFB), the nation's oldest and largest organization of blind people,
and three blind students who have applied or are considering applying to law
school in California-Deepa Goraya, Bruce J. Sexton, and Claire Stanley-filed
an amended lawsuit yesterday against the Law School Admissions Council and
four California law schools for violating provisions of the California
Disabled Persons Act, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the Americans with
Disabilities Act.  The suit was filed because the law schools require or
encourage applicants to use a centralized Internet-based application process
provided by the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) through its Web site
(www.lsac.org) that is inaccessible to blind law school applicants.  Blind
students must seek sighted assistance to use the LSAC system.  Furthermore,
blind law school applicants cannot perform other tasks on the LSAC Web site,
such as downloading official study materials for the Law School Admissions
Test (LSAT) that is required by almost all U.S. law schools.  The four law
schools are: University of California Hastings College of the Law, Thomas
Jefferson School of Law, Whittier Law School, and Chapman University School
of Law.

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 or interact with the site.  The
law school applications available on lsac.org are completely inaccessible to
screen readers, requiring blind users to resort to sighted assistance in
order to complete their law school applications.  In addition, the practice
tests and preparation materials for the LSAT are not available in an
electronic format that is accessible to blind computer users.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said:
"The National Federation of the Blind demands that those who control
admission to the practice of law obey the law.  For too long, blind people
have experienced barriers to entering the legal profession, despite a long
history of success and distinguished service by blind attorneys and judges.
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.
Since all of the schools named in our amended complaint either require or
strongly encourage applicants to use the inaccessible LSAC application
system, they too are actively discriminating against blind applicants and we
will ask the courts to hold them responsible for doing so."

The National Federation of the Blind and Ms. Goraya originally filed suit
against the LSAC for its inaccessible Web site in February of 2009.  The
complaint filed today amends that action.  The National Federation of the
Blind recently filed complaints with the United States Department of Justice
against nine other law schools across the United States that use the LSAC
online application system.  The Civil Rights Division of the Justice
Department is investigating those complaints.

Plaintiffs are represented in this matter 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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