Justice Department Reaches ADA Settlement to Make Law School Application Processes Accessible to Blind Applicants
Agreement also reached with Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today its participation in two related settlement agreements involving the accessibility of the Law School Admission Council’s (LSAC) online application service, which is used by law schools nationwide for their application processes. As a result of these agreements, LSAC’s online application service, and the online application process of the nation's law schools, will be accessible to individuals who are blind.
Under the first agreement, which resolves a lawsuit filed against LSAC by the National Federation of the Blind, LSAC will take critical steps to ensure that its online application website, www.lsac.org , will be fully accessible to individuals who use screen readers by the beginning of the fall 2012 application cycle. Application through the LSAC website offers several convenient features to applicants—including LSAC’s “Common Information Form;” bundling of applications into the required LSAC Credential Assembly Service, which eliminates the need to obtain multiple transcripts, letters of recommendations and evaluations for applicants to more than one school; and online payment of the application fee. The department is a signatory to this agreement, which signifies that the steps the LSAC will undertake for its website will satisfy, in part, the law schools’ obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to make their application processes equally accessible to individuals who are blind.
The second agreement is between the department and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. It requires the law school to modify its own website to notify potential applicants of a process they may use to apply to the law school until the LSAC electronic application process has been made fully accessible. Specifically, the notice will state that LSAC currently provides telephone assistance free of charge to individuals completing applications. The law school will also post current policies of non-discrimination on the basis of disability on its application website. Finally, the law school will cease using the LSAC electronic application process for the fall 2012 application cycle if the LSAC website is not fully accessible under the terms reached in the agreement involving the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), LSAC and the department. The agreement is the result of an investigation following a complaint from the NFB about the school’s use of the LSAC website. The department is working with other law schools to reach similar agreements.
“Increased use of the Internet or other electronic technologies may enhance convenience for law schools and applicants alike, but the rights of individuals with disabilities may not be violated in the process,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “In this case, blind students were denied an equal opportunity to apply to law school. The ADA requires equal access to educational opportunities, and the Civil Rights Division is committed to vigorous enforcement of the ADA.”
In passing the ADA and the recent ADA Amendments Act, Congress found that individuals with disabilities were uniquely disadvantaged in critical areas, including education. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations and covers discrimination by private educational facilities, including law schools and other post-graduate institutions. Those interested in seeking information about ADA rights and responsibilities may access the department’s ADA website at www.ada.gov or call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TDD). For the full agreements, visit www.ada.gov/LSAC.htm and www.ada.gov/john-marshall-lawsch.htm .