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Blind Justice? California Bar Fighting Visually-Impaired Test Taker’s Request

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  • Blind Justice? California Bar Fighting Visually-Impaired Test Taker’s Request

    How much special treatment should a blind person get in taking the bar exam?

    It’s a question currently playing out in federal court in California. The company that administers the California bar exam has asked the Ninth Circuit to stop a legally blind law student from using computer-assisted reading technology in the upcoming February test. Click here for the story, from the SF Chron.

    The company, the nonprofit National Conference of Bar Examiners, is appealing the ruling from last week issued by San Francisco federal judge Charles Breyer. Breyer ordered the NCBE to allow the plaintiff, Stephanie Enyart, to use special software during the test, as well as other accoutrements, like a special lamp, sunglasses and migrane medicine. Click here for Breyer’s order; here for Enyart’s complaint, filed last November.

    According to the Chron, the NCBE, repped by lawyers at Cooley Godward, argues that putting the test on a computer disk would expose its content to thieves.

    Its lawyers also argue that disabled students are not entitled to their preferred accommodations, only to those that provide reasonable access.

    So what do the examiners offer vision-impaired test-takers? For Enyart, they’ve offered a pencil-and-paper test with questions displayed on a large screen, a human reader and twice the usual three-day testing period.

    But Enyart said she would become nauseous from having to look at the screen and needed the computer setup to have a fair chance of passing.

    Anna Levine, a Disability Rights Advocates lawyer who represents Enyart, called the request “flabbergasting … irrational and mean-spirited.”

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