On Friday U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco ordered the National Conference of Law Examiners to accommodate Stephanie Enyart, a legally blind law school graduate attempting to take the California Bar exam. Enyart filed a suit against the NCBE after they refused to allow her to use special software during the two multiple choice sections of the exam, which is controlled by the organization in several states. Instead the NCBE offered alternative accommodations which Enyart did not believe were adequate.
The NCBE argued that federal disability law doesn’t require testing organization to provide disabled examinees with their preferred accommodations. The NCBE also argued that putting test questions on a computer disk would expose them to “hackers and thieves” The examiners wanted Enyart to accept the usual accommodations consisting of a pencil and paper test with questions displayed on an enlarged screen, a human reader and twice the normal testing period.
Enyart said that she needed her software specifically to have a fair opportunity to pass the exam. Breyer agreed and said the organization could provide its own computer to deal with security concerns. Enyart is a 32 year old graduate of UCLA School of Law and a law clerk at Disability Rights Advocates in Berkeley. She will take the exam beginning February 23. The NCBE could ask the federal appeals court to block Breyer’s order.