U.S. Attorney’s Office Settles Disability Discrimination Allegations Related to the CPA Exam
BOSTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Office has reached an agreement with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) related to testing accommodations for individuals who are blind or have low vision who take the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Exam (the CPA exam). This agreement resolves allegations of discrimination on the basis of disability under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“People who have vision-related disabilities deserve equal opportunities to take the CPA exam and gain licensure to the profession,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “We are pleased that AICPA and NASBA worked cooperatively to adopt measures that will ensure these individuals receive appropriate auxiliary aids so that their CPA exam results accurately reflect their aptitude rather than reflecting their impaired visual skills.”
In order to become a licensed CPA, one must pass the CPA exam, which consists of four separate sections, available only on a computer. When the United States began its investigation in August 2017, there was no auxiliary aid software available to exam-takers with low vision that would allow them to both magnify the computer screen and have the computer read aloud sections of the text. Instead, those exam-takers had to use alternative auxiliary aids, and sometimes a human reader, for some portions of the exam, rather than the screen reader/magnifier they requested that was recommended by their qualified professional health care provider as appropriate for their disability. AICPA now makes screen reader/magnifier software available to exam-takers with low vision for all four sections of the exam and has made the text of the Authoritative Literature (resource materials for use during the exam) accessible through a screen reader. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, AICPA is continuing to work with advocacy organizations and auxiliary aid software developers to ensure ongoing accessibility of the exam to individuals with vision-related disabilities.
Additionally, the AICPA will pay $15,000 to an individual who was a subject of the alleged discrimination. The United States will also identify other aggrieved persons who are blind or have low vision and recently took the CPA exam with an inappropriate auxiliary aid. Each additional aggrieved person shall receive up to $10,000 from AICPA, based on the details and extent of discrimination they suffered. Individuals who believe they are aggrieved persons under the terms of the agreement should contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (617) 275-8756.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Torey B. Cummings of Lelling’s Civil Rights Unit handled the case.
The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was established in 2015 with the mission of enhancing federal civil rights enforcement. For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-ma/civil-rights.