LSAC Discriminates Against Blind Law School Applicants
National Federation of the Blind Sues Law School Admissions Council for
Inaccessible Web Site and LSAT Preparation Materials
/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Federation of the Blind, the nation's
oldest and largest organization of blind people; its
affiliate; and a blind law school applicant,
, filed a lawsuit today against the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). The
complaint asserts that the LSAC, the body that administers the Law School
Admissions Test (which most aspiring law students must take) and provides other
services to law schools and law school applicants, violates the California
Disabled Persons Act and the Unruh Act because its Web site (www.lsac.org)
and LSAT preparation materials are inaccessible to blind law school applicants.
The plaintiffs have attempted to meet with the LSAC to resolve the matter, but
the LSAC canceled a planned meeting.
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 the site. Blind people can also use screen readers
to access certain kinds of electronic documents, including those in the popular
Portable Document Format (PDF). However, if PDF files are not properly
"tagged," they cannot be used by the blind. The LSAC Web site contains
accessibility barriers including improperly formatted online forms, tables and
charts that cannot be read by screen access software, and faulty keyboard
navigation support. These access barriers make it difficult or impossible for
blind people to use the Web site to register to take the LSAT, among other
things. The Web site is also the only avenue for people to apply online to any
law school accredited by the American Bar Association. However, blind applicants
cannot submit their applications without sighted assistance because the
application forms are improperly formatted. In addition, none of the LSAT
practice materials, which include previously administered versions of the test
that sighted people can obtain on the LSAC Web site, are available in accessible
, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "The Internet is
extremely useful to blind people, as well as our sighted peers, when Web sites
are properly formatted according to well-established guidelines; there is no
good reason for any Web site offering goods and services to the public to be
inaccessible to blind people. For too long, blind people have experienced
barriers to entering the legal profession, despite our long history of
demonstrated success in that field. 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."
, a law school applicant and named plaintiff in the suit, said: "Trying to
use the LSAC Web site made the experience of applying to law school a nightmare
when it should have been as easy for me as for anyone else. I had to select and
rely upon a reader for over fifty hours to complete my law school applications.
Also, none of the practice tests available on the Web site were accessible. I
want the process of gaining admission to law school to be easier for all blind
people who are interested in entering this noble profession, and I hope this
action will achieve that goal."
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.
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.