LSAC Celebrates the 29th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Today, July 26, is the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act being signed into law. This landmark legislation prevents discrimination against Americans with disabilities, and it remains a powerful influence in American society today. Accommodating those with disabilities and advocating for disability rights is key to LSAC’s mission of promoting access and equity in the legal profession.

LSAC is eager to engage with other organizations that support disability communities. Most recently, many of our staff just returned from this month’s National Federation of the Blind conference in Las Vegas. Our participation in the conference was part of our effort to continue to learn about challenges that persons with disabilities may experience in their journey to law school and the legal profession. These engagements teach us how we can streamline our procedures for requesting test accommodations in a fair and equitable way. With input from blind and vision-impaired candidates, and others from various disability communities, we can help ease what already is an anxious process.

As a sponsor, LSAC participated in the NFB career fair, exhibited at the convention, and presented to the organization’s Blind Lawyers Division. At the career fair, LSAC’s representatives interacted with more than 500 attendees. And our exhibition table included Microsoft Surface Go tablets on which we could demonstrate the new Digital LSAT — which includes accessibility features such as adjustable type size, colors, and brightness. We also brought Braille and large-print brochures to accommodate sight-impaired attendees.

During the event, we were visited by Jeff Thompson, owner and editor of the website Blind Abilities, which features podcasts and blogs created by blind and vision-impaired people interested in breaking down obstacles and sharing their experiences. After a great conversation with LSAC staff about the accommodations we provide for the LSAT, he went on to post a new blog on the Blind Abilities website, entitled “Accommodated Testing at Law School Admission Council (LSAC) — Learn How to Enhance Your Opportunities and the Accommodations for Taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

For myself and others who attended, the experience was nothing short of inspirational. Attendees helped each other maneuver between the convention center, casino, and the hotel. People held shoulders or followed the sound of others' voices. Some used service dogs. This community of compassion extended beyond the participants: Casino workers and even people there gambling lent a hand, joining in the spirit of helping everyone. Among other things, we learned how best to assist the blind while not undermining their independence and confidence.

Our time at this event further enhanced our understanding of, and commitment to, bringing accessibility to our workplace, our member law schools, and our candidates. We constantly review how refinements to our products and services can better serve the blind and other disabled candidates — and, in turn, serve LSAC’s mission of making a career in law accessible to all. That mission is important every day of the year, but it takes on new significance today, as we celebrate the ADA and all it has done, and continues to do, for Americans with disabilities.

Leanne Shank

Of Counsel
Leanne Shank is of counsel at the Law School Admission Council. In this role, she supports the legal team which provides legal advice to the Board of Trustees, its committees, senior leadership, and managers in all areas of LSAC operations.