Oct. 8, 2019
LANSING – A groundbreaking settlement sparked by a Michigan man will open the doors to law school for blind and visually impaired students across the country, said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Angelo Binno filed a federal lawsuit against the American Bar Association in 2011 for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act. The Law School Admission Council denied Binno's request to waive a section of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) for his significant near-point visual impairment. When the original case ultimately got dismissed, Binno refiled – this time against the testing company itself, LSAC.
Monday, Binno reported an amicable resolution to the lawsuit that was supported by the Michigan Department of Attorney General as an Amicus at the district court, Sixth Circuit, and U.S. Supreme Court.
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"This announcement is a major victory for the blind and visually impaired communities and reinforces the importance of resiliency in the face of adversity," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. "Equal rights for all who live in this state and this nation isn't just common courtesy, it is the law – everyone is to be treated with fairness and equality."
According to a news release issued by Binno's attorneys, "Rather than continuing to litigate, the parties [chose] to work cooperatively to expand access to legal education and ensure that disability remains a critical component of diversity in U.S. law schools."
Two key provisions of the settlement LSAC agreed to include:
- Working with Binno and his co-plaintiff, Shelesha Taylor, to identify additional accommodations they can use if they take the LSAT in the future, while maintaining the validity and integrity of the LSAT examination. Initiating research and development for alternative ways to assess analytical reasoning skills – as part of a broader review of all question types – to determine how the fundamental skills for success in law school can be reliably assessed in an accessible manner.
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LSAC will complete this work within the next four years, which will enable all prospective law school students to take an exam administered by LSAC that does not have the current analytical reasoning section but continues to assess analytical reasoning abilities.
"It is essential we have diversity and equity in every profession, and even more so in the profession that is designed to ensure our rights remain intact for all who live here," Nessel added. "While Mr. Binno's success marks a milestone for the blind and visually impaired communities, it reminds us there is more work to be done to ensure a level playing field for every person, regardless of disability."
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