[AI] NFB files complaints against law schools for discriminating applicants with VI

Sathiyaprakash Ramdoss sathiya.ramdoss at gmail.com
Mon May 10 19:54:01 EDT 2010

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 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

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.

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