Blind law student

Legally blind Vt. law student wins 1st big case

Deanna Jones, a third-year law student who's legally blind and learning disabled, has won her first big court case: her own.

Jones sued the National Conference of Bar Examiners in July, accusing it of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act by refusing to let her take a key legal ethics exam using a computer with screen access software that she has used to read in college and in law school.

Armed with a federal judge's order, she was able to take the test Friday, closely watched by a proctor, test supervisor and someone from the ACT, Inc. testing company, she said.

"I think I did OK," she said. "I left feeling like I probably passed it."

Jones, who attends Vermont Law School with hopes of practicing disability law, needs the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam to practice in Vermont. The NCBE fought her request and plans to appeal, saying the security of its pencil-and-paper test could be jeopardized if taken electronically. The organization had offered instead to have someone read the test to Jones, to let her take the test in Braille, in enlarged print, and use an audio CD.

But a judge ruled Tuesday that the examiners had to provide her a laptop equipped with the special software. Jones said she was "just emotionally overcome" when she finally sat down for the exam.

(Published by Forbes - August 8, 2011)

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