The National Federation of the Blind and a blind law school applicant filed a discrimination lawsuit against the national law school admissions test administrator, The Law School Admissions Council, in a California Superior Court.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Feb. 19 in Alameda County, claims that the Newtown, Pa.-based admissions council violates two California laws requiring equal access to disabled persons because its Web site and Law School Admission Test (LSAT) preparation materials are inaccessible to the blind. National Federation of the Blind v. Law School Admissions Council Inc., No. RG-09436691 (Alameda Co., Calif., Super. Ct.).
The lawsuit’s claims include alleged violations of California’s Disabled Persons Act and California’s Unruh Act, which requires businesses to offer equal accommodations and facilities to disabled persons. The plaintiffs are also asking the court for a declaratory judgment stating that California laws require the admissions council to provide blind persons equal access to its Web site.
The federation has successfully targeted corporations with inadequate Web site accessibility for the blind. Last August, retailer Target Corp. agreed to change its Web site and establish a $6 million claims fund to settle a discrimination class action brought by the federation. National Federation of the Blind v. Target, No. 06-01802 (N.D. Calif.). [NLJ, 8-28-08.]
In September, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and the federation negotiated a deal with Apple Inc. to make Apple’s iTunes and iTunes U fully accessible to the blind. [NLJ 9-30-08.]
The Law School Admissions Council is “engaging in blatant discrimination against the blind” said the blind federation’s president, Marc Maurer, in a statement.
“For too long, blind people have experienced barriers to entering the legal profession, despite our long history of demonstrated success in that field,” stated Maurer. “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 admissions council generally does not comment on pending lawsuits, but decided to make an exception in this case to express its disappointment, said general counsel Joan Van Tol.
The council is disappointed that the federation chose to litigate “when we fully expected to address their concerns through productive meetings.” Van Tol also said the council has been working on setting up a meeting at the federation’s offices “so they could demonstrate new assistive technologies that we’d like to learn about.”