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April 26 — Nationwide bar preparation course provider BarBri Inc. has prevented blind law students from adequately preparing for bar exams by maintaining accessibility barriers to its website and mobile application, according to a complaint filed April 25 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
A recent law school graduate and two law students filed class claims against BarBri on behalf of all legally blind people who have taken or will take a BarBri review course. The plaintiffs seek an order requiring the company to make its course materials accessible and to compensate students who relied on BarBri's review services but found them inaccessible.
The complaint is the latest in a series of website accessibility cases filed under Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act. More than 50 complaints have been filed since the beginning of 2015 against well-known retailers such as Target Corp. and The Home Depot Inc. for allegedly violating the rights of blind users (21 ECLR 23, 1/6/16).
BarBri has refused to modify or remove the inaccessible features of its website and app, despite receiving multiple complaints and requests to do so, the plaintiffs alleged.
Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §12182(a), prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of public accommodations.
BarBri offers an online planner, practice questions and lecture videos to help law students prepare for the bar exam. The graduate, plaintiff Claire Stanley, alleged that when studying for the February 2016 exam, BarBri's website failed to make the answer choices on its practice Multistate Bar Exam multiple choice test fully compatible with screen reading technology.
BarBri instructs students to read the “call of the question” before reading the question itself. But the website prevented Stanley from reading the answer choices first before scrolling back up to the question, she alleged. She argued she couldn't take the practice test in the manner that BarBri advised.
Stanley also alleged that BarBri failed to make its “Essay Architect” feature accessible to her screen reader and thus prevented her from receiving vital feedback on essay construction. She said BarBri also failed to include page numbers detectable by her screen reader on online lecture handouts.
BarBri's “unequal and inferior test preparation services” caused her to “score below her sighted peers and be unable to pass the bar exam,” Stanley said.
Texas Civil Rights Project represents the plaintiffs.
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