Blind law student wins computer aid for bar exam

A blind law student can use computer-assisted reading devices in next month’s bar exam, a federal judge has ruled, rejecting the examiners’ arguments that the assistance was too generous and might let someone steal the test questions, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco ordered the National Conference of Bar Examiners on Jan. 29 to accommodate Stephanie Enyart, who suffers from macular degeneration and retinal dystrophy and was declared legally blind at 15. Enyart, 32, graduated last spring from UCLA Law School, where she took tests on a laptop with software that magnified the text and read the words into earbuds. But she has not taken the bar exam because its examiners have refused to allow the same arrangements. Federal disability law “does not require testing organizations to provide disabled examinees with their preferred accommodations,” the examiners’ lawyer, Gregory Tenhoff, said in court papers. He also said putting the test questions on a computer disk would expose them to hackers and thieves. The examiners said Enyart would have to accept the usual accommodations for blind and visually impaired applicants: a pencil-and-paper test with questions displayed on an enlarged screen, a human reader, and twice the usual three-day testing period. In siding with Enyart, Breyer said the bar could provide its own computer for increased security. “A disability should not prevent an individual from pursuing their dream, if that’s what it is, of practicing law,” the judge said…

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