[nfb-talk] Law Schools Discriminate Against Blind Applicants

Freeh, Jessica JFreeh at nfb.org
Wed Jun 9 16:41:05 UTC 2010



Chris Danielsen

Director of Public Relations

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

<mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org>cdanielsen at nfb.org

Law Schools Discriminate Against Blind Applicants

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

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 
California­Deepa Goraya, Bruce J. Sexton, and 
Claire Stanley­filed 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 (<http://www.lsac.org/>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 <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = 
/>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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