from… The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity

Justice Dept. Sues LSAC for Withholding Accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is intended to ensure that high stakes standardized test such as those necessary for college admission, credentialing and certification are offered in an accessible manner.  The law and associated regulations focus on ensuring that the test is accessible so that the resulting grade reflects the individual’s ability rather than his/her disability. Many applicants find that the process of requesting and applying for accommodations is extremely burdensome and often ends without the applicant receiving the necessary accommodations. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has, in its Press Release, announced that it is committed to enforcing the law, that it will take action, and that it will protect the rights of individuals with disabilities.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Justice Department Seeks to Intervene in Lawsuit Against Law School Admission Council to Protect Rights of Individuals with Disabilities

The Justice Department announced today that it seeks to intervene in a class action lawsuit against the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) in federal court in San Francisco to remedy violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).   The lawsuit, The Department of Fair Employment and Housing v. LSAC, Inc., et al., charges LSAC with widespread and systemic deficiencies in the way it processes requests by people with disabilities for testing accommodations for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).   As a result, the lawsuit alleges, LSAC fails to provide accommodations where needed to best ensure that those test takers can demonstrate their aptitude and achievement level rather than their disability.

The department’s proposed complaint identifies additional victims of LSAC’s discriminatory policies and details LSAC’s routine denial of accommodation requests, even in cases where applicants have submitted thorough supporting documentation from qualified professionals and demonstrated a history of testing accommodations.

The department further alleges that LSAC discriminates against prospective law students with disabilities by unnecessarily “flagging” test scores obtained with certain testing accommodations in a way that identifies the test taker as a person with a disability and discloses otherwise confidential disability-related information to law schools during the admissions process.   LSAC’s practice of singling out persons with disabilities by flagging their scores – essentially announcing to law schools that examinees who exercise their civil right to the testing accommodation of extended time may not deserve the scores they received – is discrimination prohibited by the ADA.   The department’s proposed complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory damages and a civil penalty against LSAC.

“Credentialing examinations, such as the LSAT, are increasingly the gateway to educational and employment opportunities, and the ADA demands that each individual with a disability have the opportunity to fairly demonstrate their abilities so they can pursue their dreams,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.   “The Justice Department’s participation in this action is critical to protecting the public interest in the important issues raised in this case.”

One of the victims identified in the complaint, for example, has severe visual impairments and previously received special education services at a school for people who are blind.   Even though she provided LSAC with extensive medical documentation of her conditions, as well as proof that she had received testing accommodations since kindergarten, LSAC denied nearly all her requested accommodations, and even refused to provide her a large print test book.   When she tried to appeal the denial, LSAC informed her that she had missed the deadline for reconsideration.   She then reapplied two more times for testing accommodations, resubmitting all the information previously provided to LSAC, as well as additional medical documentation.   Despite her extensive history of receiving the very same testing accommodations throughout her educational career and on standardized tests, and in disregard of the recommendations of a qualified professional, LSAC refused her requested testing accommodations on three separate occasions.

“The action taken in this case demonstrates the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s commitment to ensuring equal access to educational opportunities for everyone,” said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations and by entities that offer examinations or courses related to applications, licensing, certification, or credentialing for secondary or postsecondary education, professional, or trade purposes.   The ADA mandates that testing entities administer examinations in an accessible manner.   This requires testing entities to administer examinations, such as the LSAT, so as to best ensure that, when the examination is administered to a person with a disability, the examination results accurately reflect his or her aptitude or achievement level, or whatever other factor the examination purports to measure, rather than the individual’s disability.   In addition, Title V of the ADA prohibits any entity from coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with an individual’s exercise or enjoyment of a right granted by the ADA.

Those interested in finding out more about federal disability rights laws may call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access its ADA website at  ADA complaints may be filed by email to [email protected].

Dyslexia in the Classroom

Article from The Portland Press Herald in Maine

Maine Voices: As schools start, it is important to identify dyslexia early

Though dyslexia is not curable, proper instruction makes a big difference in helping affected children.


Did you know that there are at least 40,000 children in Maine with dyslexia?


If we include adults, there are at least 200,000 Mainers affected by the same condition.

Affecting roughly 15 percent of the general population and often running in families, dyslexia is widely misunderstood and profoundly impacts learning, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

In a typical school serving 500 children, that translates to roughly 75 dyslexic students exhibiting varying degrees of reading difficulties ranging from mild to severe.

For a variety of reasons, many of these students may not be identified in the special education system.

As Maine children head back to school, we all share the hope that it will be a successful year. We cannot leave this 15 percent of our children out of the equation.

It is a particularly compelling time of year to ask the question: Is your child or student dyslexic? Do you know what signs to look for?

First and foremost, dyslexia is a well-understood, clearly defined condition.

If someone tells you that dyslexia does not exist or “went out of style,” run, don’t walk, to a more accurate source.

Second, dyslexics are not unintelligent. On the contrary, many dyslexics are highly intelligent, often demonstrating particularly strong artistic skills and strengths in problem solving.

Dyslexics do not “see words backwards.”

They often have difficulty accurately reading or pronouncing words that look similar.

Dyslexics often intend to say one word but say another.

Dyslexia is not the result of laziness and it cannot be “cured.”

It is the result of a common neurological variation in the way the brain processes print information that can make it extremely difficult to read quickly and accurately, and also makes spelling more difficult.

Not surprisingly, this condition often profoundly impacts a dyslexic child’s performance in school and can be devastating to his or her self-esteem without proper support.

Teachers and parents should be on the lookout for children who have consistent difficulty recognizing and responding to simple rhymes, sounding out short words, or remembering letter names.

Some of these early signs of dyslexia, such as difficulty with rhyming, can be identified before a child even begins kindergarten, and shouldn’t be dismissed as “something he’ll grow out of.”

Teachers must be aware of the significant number of dyslexic children that pass through their classrooms each year.

In a typical classroom of 20 students, statistics tell us that at least three of those students will be dyslexic.

While all children benefit from clear, direct instruction in reading, it is especially important that dyslexic children get the right kind of reading instruction as early and intensively as possible.

Dyslexia is not “curable” or something to be “fixed,” but proper instruction makes a tremendous difference in helping affected children learn to read and be successful in school.

The earlier the learning difference is discovered, the sooner a child can receive the help that he or she needs.

Perhaps even more important, parents and teachers can help a child to understand that he is not “stupid” or “lazy,” nor alone, but that he has a common variation in how he learns and will need extra patience and practice with reading.

A number of studies have clinically proven that the risk to a child of low self esteem stemming from dyslexia can be successfully countered by arming the child with age appropriate, accurate information about what dyslexia is and is not so that he can learn from an early age how to best advocate for his own learning.

In the Portland area, the Maine Twig/ New Hampshire. Branch of the International Dyslexia Association offers a free monthly support group for parents of struggling readers. It is held at the Portland Public Library at noon on the third Friday of each month (resuming Sept. 21).

The Children’s Dyslexia Center in Portland, usually full well beyond capacity, offers tutoring services for dyslexics as well as instructional training for adults.

Many wonderful resources are also available now on the Internet for educators and families needing more information.

As we welcome our children back to school this fall, please help spread the word that dyslexia is not a strange or rare phenomenon.

It is a common learning difference impacting a significant percentage of our population that deserves far greater attention and accommodation so that we can expand literacy opportunities for all Mainers.

Julie Boesky is a member of the Maine/New Hampshire branch of International Dyslexia Association.