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Recently the U.S. Court of Appeals made a ruling on Enyart v. The National Conference of Bar Examiners that upheld the right of a blind law school graduate student to use specific assistive technology – in this case JAWS and ZoomText – when taking a licensing exam. The impact of the ruling is that users with disabilities have a clear right to take a test using assistive technology they are directly familiar with when preventing this would make the test accessible. This ensures the examination is administered in a fashion that allows an accurate gauge of the individual’s efficacy and domain knowledge not their disability.

Case Overview

Stephanie Enyart, a legally blind law school graduate, sought to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) and the Multistate Bar Exam using a computer equipped with JAWS and ZoomText. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) refused to grant this particular accommodation and offered alternative accommodations. Enyart sued the NCBE under the Americans with Disabilities Act seeking injunctive relief. The district court issued preliminary injunctions requiring NCBE to allow Enyart to take the exams using the assistive software, and upon appeal, this injunction was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

When Enyart registered for the relevant exams she requested she be able to take the test using ZoomText and JAWS. NCBE declined to allow Enyart to take the exam with ZoomText and JAWS and, instead, offered to provide a human reader, an audio CD of the test questions, a braille version of the test, and/or a CCTV with a hard-copy version in large font with white letters printed on a black background. The district court ruled that these accommodations were not sufficient to allow Enyart to take the exam without severe discomfort and disadvantage. As such they demonstrated that the test was not “accessible” to her, and that the accommodations offered by NCBE were not “reasonable.”

This case overview was compiled from the ruling provided by the U.S. Court of Appeals on Enyart v. The National Conference of Bar Examiners

This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.