While the U.S. Department of Justice and other organizations push to make it easier for disabled people to gain accommodations on the Law School Admission Test, a Michigan man is attempting to prove that the test at its core discriminates against the visually impaired.
Angelo Binno last year sued the American Bar Association in the Eastern District of Michigan, alleging that the organization violates the Americans With Disabilities Act by requiring all prospective law students to sit for an exam that is fundamentally unfair to the blind. Binno has taken the LSAT multiple times, but his low scores have prevented him from getting into law school, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit argues that about a quarter of the LSAT’s multiple-choice questions involve “analytical reasoning,” asking test takers to solve logic questions that often involve diagramming and spacial relationships.
“You shouldn’t require someone who is blind to draw a picture,” said attorney Richard Bernstein, who represents Binno. Bernstein, who also is blind, entered Northwestern University School of Law in 1996 without taking the LSAT because the ABA at the time allowed law schools to waive the test. “A blind person doesn’t think visually. It’s cruel.”
For their part, officials at the Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT, countered that they offer visually impaired test takers screen-reading technology and scribes when needed. “The analytical-reasoning portion of the exam asks you to apply rules to a set of facts,” spokesman James Vaseleck said. “How you hold facts in your head is up to you. Some people use diagrams, but that’s not the only way.”
U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood dismissed Binno’s suit on September 30, agreeing with the ABA’s argument that Binno lacked standing because the ABA did not design the LSAT and hadn’t denied him admission into law school.
Binno has already filed a notice of appeal, and Bernstein said he is preparing to file a parallel lawsuit against the council. “The only way you can be a bully is if someone gives you the power to bully,” Bernstein said. The ABA, he said, is “the entity that requires a discriminatory exam that is the problem.”
— Karen Sloan