Blind Test-Takers Win Accommodations

Teacher & Employment Testing

The American Association of State Social Work Boards has agreed to provide qualified readers for all vision-impaired applicants for its certification exams in order to settle a lawsuit brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The U.S. Justice Department had charged the group with failure to provide adequate accommodations to all test-takers as required by federal law.


Defendants agreed to: ensure readers are proficient in working with the blind and familiar with the test; allow test-takers to provide their own readers or pay for the reader and applicant to become familiar with each other; train all staff in the new rules; aggressively publicize the policies; and designate an ADA coordinator to respond to test-taker’s questions and concerns.


The settlement may serve as a national model. Acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Bill Lann Lee said, “Companies that offer standardized tests should follow this agreement so that the examinations they offer truly test the aptitude and achievement levels of people with disabilities.”


Passed just a decade ago, the ADA’s full impact on testing cases is not yet known. But initial precedents, such as this one, suggest it can be a very powerful tool for equity and proper exam use.