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Accessible Web Lawsuit Filed

From: Cynthia Waddell <cynthia.waddell@icdri.org>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 16:25:47 -0800
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Today the National Federation of the Blind filed a complaint against the Law
School Admissions Council (LSAC) in California today for violations of
California's Unruh Act and Disabled Persons Act as a result of LSAC's
inaccessible web site and LSAT preparation materials.  For more information
see press release below and also www.dralegal.org <http://www.dralegal.org/>


Here is the press release:





Chris Danielsen

Director of Public Relations

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

LSAC Discriminates Against Blind Law School Applicants

National Federation of the Blind Sues Law School Admissions Council for
Inaccessible Web Site and LSAT Preparation Materials


Baltimore, Maryland (February 19, 2009): The National Federation of the
Blind, the nation's oldest and largest organization of blind people; its
California affiliate; and a blind law school applicant, Deepa Goraya, are
filing a lawsuit today against the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC).
The complaint asserts that the LSAC, the body that administers the Law
School Admissions Test (which most aspiring law students must take) and
provides other services to law schools and law school applicants, violates
the California Disabled Persons Act and the Unruh Act because its Web site
(www.lsac.org) and LSAT preparation materials are inaccessible to blind law
school applicants.  The plaintiffs have attempted to meet with the LSAC to
resolve the matter, but the LSAC canceled a planned meeting.


Blind people access Web sites on computers equipped with screen access
software that converts what is on the screen into synthesized speech or
Braille.  The keyboard is used instead of a mouse to navigate the Web site
and click on selected links or buttons. If a Web site is improperly coded,
however, blind computer users cannot access the site.  Blind people can also
use screen readers to access certain kinds of electronic documents,
including those in the popular Portable Document Format (PDF).  However, if
PDF files are not properly "tagged," they cannot be used by the blind.  The
LSAC Web site contains accessibility barriers including improperly formatted
online forms, tables and charts that cannot be read by screen access
software, and faulty keyboard navigation support.  These access barriers
make it difficult or impossible for blind people to use the Web site to
register to take the LSAT, among other things.  The Web site is also the
only avenue for people to apply online to any law school accredited by 


the American Bar Association.  However, blind applicants cannot submit their
applications without sighted assistance because the application forms are
improperly formatted.  In addition, none of the LSAT practice materials,
which include previously administered versions of the test that sighted
people can obtain on the LSAC Web site, are available in accessible
electronic formats.


Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said:
"The Internet is extremely useful to blind people, as well as our sighted
peers, when Web sites are properly formatted according to well-established
guidelines; there is no good reason for any Web site offering goods and
services to the public to be inaccessible to blind people.  For too long,
blind people have experienced barriers to entering the legal profession,
despite our long history of demonstrated success in that field.  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 LSAC is engaging
in blatant discrimination against the blind and we will not stand for it."


Deepa Goraya, a law school applicant and named plaintiff in the suit, said:
"Trying to use the LSAC Web site made the experience of applying to law
school a nightmare when it should have been as easy for me as for anyone
else.  I had to select and rely upon a reader for over fifty hours to
complete my law school applications.  Also, none of the practice tests
available on the Web site were accessible.  I want the process of gaining
admission to law school to be easier for all blind people who are interested
in entering this noble profession, and I hope this action will achieve that






About the National Federation of the Blind


With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind is the
largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the
United States.  The NFB improves blind people's lives through advocacy,
education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and
self-confidence.  It is the leading force in the blindness field today and
the voice of the nation's blind.  In January 2004 the NFB opened the
National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and
training center in the United States for the blind led by the blind.  


Best regards,

Cynthia Waddell


Cynthia D. Waddell, JD

Executive Director and

Law, Policy and Technology Consultant

International Center for Disability Resources

   on the Internet (ICDRI) Phone:  (408) 691-6921


ICT Accessibility & Government Services Expert

United Nations Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs



ICDRI is based in

Raleigh, North Carolina USA



See My Books!

Web Accessibility:  Web Standards and

Regulatory Compliance by Apress 2006

at www.icdri.org/WSR_Book.htm

See also Constructing Accessible Web Sites



Is your Web Site Accessible?

Find out now with Cynthia Says! www.cynthiasays.com

Endorsed by the American Council of the Blind,

the CynthiaSaysTM portal is a joint Education

and Outreach project of ICDRI, The Internet

Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter, 

and HiSoftware.

Received on Friday, 20 February 2009 00:26:38 UTC

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