[Nfbk] FW: [Chapter-presidents] Law Schools Discriminate Against BlindApplicants

Cathy cathyj at iglou.com
Wed May 5 20:03:46 UTC 2010

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[mailto:chapter-presidents-bounces at nfbnet.org]On Behalf Of Freeh,Jessica (by
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Sent: Wednesday, May 05, 2010 10:13 AM
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Subject: [Chapter-presidents] Law Schools Discriminate Against



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 Complaints Against Nine Law Schools

Baltimore, Maryland (May 5, 2010): The National Federation of the Blind
(NFB), the nation?s oldest and largest organization of blind people,
announced today that it has filed complaints with the United States
Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, requesting investigations of
nine prominent law schools for violating the civil rights of blind and other
print-disabled law school applicants.  The NFB filed the complaints because
the law schools require applicants who wish to have the convenience of
applying online 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.  While
sighted law school applicants can use the LSAC system to submit multiple law
school applications at once, blind students must seek sighted assistance to
use the LSAC system.  Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act
requires these law schools to offer equal access to their programs and
services.  The nine law schools named in the complaints are The University
of Chicago Law School, Yeshiva University?s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of
Law, Atlanta?s John Marshall Law School, University of Denver?s Sturm
College of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law, University of
Miami School of Law, William Mitchell College of Law, Gonzaga University
School of Law, and Northeastern University School of Law.  The complaints
ask the Justice Department to require these law schools to suspend use of
the LSAC application system until it is accessible to blind and other
print-disabled students and to require each law school to provide the same
application process in a format available to all students. The NFB already
has a lawsuit pending against the LSAC for violating <?xml:namespace prefix
= st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />California law by
maintaining an inaccessible Web site.

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 LSAC application process does not present
information to screen access software and thus requires blind users to
resort to sighted assistance.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said:
?The National Federation of the Blind expects those who control admission to
the practice of law to obey the law.  Forcing blind law school applicants to
use a separate and inherently unequal application process violates both the
letter and the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the
Rehabilitation Act.  Accessibility standards for Web-based forms like those
used in the Law School Admissions Council?s application system have been in
place for years and have been successfully implemented by many other Web
sites, so there is no reason why the LSAC cannot make its application
service available to blind law school applicants.  That is why we have asked
the United States Department of Justice to act swiftly and decisively to
ensure that blind law school applicants are treated the same as their
sighted peers.?

The National Federation of the Blind is 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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