Blind Bar Applicants in NY and DC Can Take Bar Exam Remotely
National Federation of the Blind Urges Other State Bars and Examining Authorities to Implement Remote Exams with ADA Accommodations
Baltimore, Maryland (October 19, 2020): The National Federation of the Blind, America’s civil rights organization of the blind, commended bar admission authorities in New York and the District of Columbia for implementing accommodation procedures that are allowing blind bar candidates to take their licensing examinations remotely, as non-disabled candidates are being permitted to do during the COVID-19 pandemic, but expressed concern that other jurisdictions are not following suit. The New York and District of Columbia bar administrators had initially said they would permit blind candidates to take the examination in accessible formats and with technology accommodations, such as the use of text-to-speech screen reader technology and Braille devices, only at an in-person location with an on-site proctor. The National Federation of the Blind raised objections to this plan on behalf of a blind candidate, Seif-Eldeen Saqallah, citing relevant provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the examining authorities quickly changed course.
“The law requires—and common sense demands—that blind people and other candidates with disabilities be allowed to take high-stakes licensure examinations remotely during this time of pandemic if non-disabled candidates are permitted to do so,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We demand that bar-admissions authorities currently not granting accommodations for remote testing, such as the state bar in California, do so immediately. The National Federation of the Blind will fight for the right of blind people to be treated equally with respect to the bar examination and other tests that will determine their educational and career opportunities, as we have throughout our history.”