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Blind Law Grad Sues Over Bar Exam’s Human, Rather than Computer, Readers

Posted Jan 6, 2010 1:53 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A blind graduate of UCLA law school plans to take the bar exam in February, and she hopes she will be able to use a computer program that reads the text aloud.

The State Bar of California allows use of the computer assisted reader for its section of the exam, but the National Conference of Bar Examiners is requiring a human reader for its multistate portion of the test, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Stephanie Enyart claims in a lawsuit that the computer-assistance ban violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and California's Unruh Civil Rights Act. She told the Times that she encountered problems when a human reader provided for the Law School Admissions Test was suffering from a cold.

According to the article: “He sneezed and coughed. The words came out in a nasal mumble. He interrupted his reading every few minutes to blow his nose, use the restroom or get tea to ease his congestion. Even though she was allotted double time to compensate for her disability, Enyart said her score also suffered.”

Enyart was profiled in a 2008 article in Student Lawyer. She lost her vision because of macular degeneration at the age of 15, and she used the computer reading software throughout law school. She can’t see an object directly in front of her, and instead sees a pulsing light.

Enyart helped organize the National Association of Law Students with Disabilities, and told the Student Lawyer she planned to pursue a career in disability law. She was also a 2008-09 member of the ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law.

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