Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Blind Woman Sworn in to DC Bar-A long battle.

WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- A blind woman was sworn in to the DC bar Monday
to become a lawyer, marking the end of an 8 year battle with bar
examiners in two states to allow her and other blind candidates to
use adaptive software of their choosing to take the test.

Even so, the National Conference of Bar Examiners continues to
resist allowing blind candidates to take the bar exam on the terms
of the blind individual.

Cathryn Bonnette has sued the NCBE in California and in DC during
her quest to take the bar exam with the help of adaptive software
that is used by hundreds of thousands of blind people
nationwide. The software translates text in electronic documents
into speech that the blind user can hear and respond to.

Judges in 3 states and the District have issued injunctions in favor
of students, but the NCBE argues that the judges have overstepped
their authority because the organization offers other accommodations
for blind candidates, such as in-person oral and braille exams.

In a court brief, the NCBE cites "legitimate cost, security and
other programmatic concerns."

Bonnette says the NCBE should stop resisting. "You graduate law
school. You've done well, and all of a sudden to take that licensing
exam you can't get the software you need."

After winning an injunction in DC, Bonnette passed the bar exam in
July using the translational software she is comfortable with.
fter her swearing in as a lawyer, Bonnette said she plans to
dvocate for other disabled people in battles for access.
aw students in Maryland have so far been unable to force the NCBE
allow the software on that state's bar exam.
hey're forcing us to fight a state-by-state battle Bonnette complained.
News story here: >


Michael Richardson, MPA
Assistant Director/Counseling Services Coordinator

University of Washington
Disability Resources for Students
448 Schmitz Hall
Box 355839
Seattle, WA 98195-5839
Ph: 206.543.8924 TTY: 206.543.8925 Fax: 206.616.8379

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