[NFBOK-Talk] Kristen Steele Not Allowed to Take Licensing Examination in Braille

Jeannie Massay jmassay1 at cox.net
Thu Mar 2 19:54:37 UTC 2017

Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
cdanielsen at nfb.org <mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org> 

National Federation of the Blind Assists Blind Woman in Litigation Against
Massage and Body Work Licensing Authority
Kristen Steele Not Allowed to Take Licensing Examination in Braille


Baltimore, Maryland (February 28, 2017): The National Federation of the
Blind, the nation's leading advocate for equal education and career
opportunities for the blind, is assisting Kristen Steele in her lawsuit
(Case 1:17-cv-00004-RP-SBJ) against the Federation of State Massage Therapy
Boards (FSMTB), which has denied her request to take its examination, the
Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), in Braille. Ms. Steele
seeks to become a licensed massage therapist in Iowa and Nebraska, both of
which require passing the MBLEx in order to receive a license. Strangely,
the FSMTB claims that Braille would somehow provide her with an unfair


Ms. Steele began learning Braille at the age of three and is a fluent
reader. Furthermore, she has used Braille throughout her education,
including her studies at the Midwest School of Massage in Omaha, NE, where
she graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Her lawsuit, which has been filed in the
Federal District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, Western Division,
alleges that FSMTB is violating federal law, specifically Title III of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), by denying her request to use Braille
to take the MBLEx. Regulations pursuant to Title III of the ADA require that
testing entities administer examinations in ways that best ensure that "when
the examination is administered to an individual with a disability that
impairs sensory, manual, or speaking skills, the examination results
accurately reflect the individual's aptitude or achievement level or
whatever other factor the examination purports to measure, rather than
reflecting the individual's impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills . .
. " In Ms. Steele's case, this means administering the examination in
Braille, since she has used Braille throughout her education and in similar
testing situations, such as taking the ACT in high school. Her lawsuit asks
the court to order FSMTB to administer the MBLEx to her in Braille.


Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said:
"In the nearly two centuries since its invention by a blind student, Braille
has become widely recognized as the most effective means of reading and
writing for the blind, and countless blind individuals have achieved
educational and career success and the ability to live the lives we want by
using it. Braille does not afford Ms. Steele any unfair advantage in taking
the MBLEx or any other test, any more than using print provides an unfair
advantage to sighted test takers. Indeed, requiring her to use a method
other than Braille will place Ms. Steele at an unfair disadvantage compared
to other test takers. The National Federation of the Blind will continue to
fight for the right of blind people to use the auxiliary aid of their choice
when taking high-stakes tests." 


Ms. Steele is represented, with the assistance of the National Federation of
the Blind, by Tai Tomasi of Disability Rights Iowa, and by Sharon
Krevor-Weisbaum and Emily Levenson of the Baltimore firm Brown, Goldstein &
Levy LLP.


About the National Federation of the Blind 
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the
characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the
expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles
between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want;
blindness is not what holds you back.


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://nfbnet.org/pipermail/nfbok-talk_nfbnet.org/attachments/20170302/6553fdd6/attachment.html>

More information about the NFBOK-Talk mailing list