Appropriate Testing Accommodations for Blind Test-Takers: High Stakes Examinations

Jake Mattinson

Preferred Citation

Mattinson, J. (2012). Appropriate testing accommodations for blind test-takers: High stakes examinations. Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research, 2(1). Retrieved from doi:


Over time, courts have denied individuals with disabilities certain requested accommodations related to admissions tests for entry into their chosen profession. In particular, blind and otherwise visually impaired individuals frequently face opposition when requesting the use of screen reading software when taking the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (the “MPRE”) and the Multistate Bar Examination (the “MBE”) for entry into the legal profession.

Questions arise when asking whether the court should require the organization administering the MBE to grant a blind individual any requested accommodations, even when the organization has offered alternative accommodations? Furthermore, is it significant to the court’s determination if one of the alternative accommodations proved successful for the blind individual on the MPRE? Courts have struggled to answer these questions, applying different standards. Ultimately, however, the courts seem to have settled on the “best ensures” standard, which states that an examination must be administered in a fashion that will best ensure that the results of the examination accurately reflect the individual’s ability, rather than the individual’s disability. By applying this standard, a court would likely find that whether a blind individual should be granted a requested accommodation rests heavily on whether that accommodation provides the best chance of taking an examination that will test the individual's ability and not disadvantage the individual due to blindness or another disability.

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The Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research is copyright (c) 2014 to the National Federation of the Blind.