Bar Association Seeks More Accommodation of Disabled Students on LSAT

February 13, 2012

The American Bar Association has joined advocates for disabled students in urging the Law School Admission Council to improve the way it handles requests for accommodations from disabled test-takers.

The ABA House of Delegates last week unanimously approved a resolution urging the council to "ensure that the exam reflects what the exam is designed to measure, and not the test taker's disability."

The resolution calls on any groups that administer the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, to make sure applicants can easily find the rules and guidelines for getting accommodations, such as extra time or auxiliary aids. It also urged them to process requests faster, and to provide a fair process for reconsidering denials in a timely manner.

It also criticizes the practice of "flagging" scores from people who have received special accommodations. The Law School Admission Council's Web site cautions applicants that if they receive extra time on the test, the council will send a statement "advising that your score(s) should be interpreted with great sensitivity and flexibility."

The ABA report said that some applicants don't want to reveal their disability, and a flagged score can stigmatize them.

Wendy Margolis, a spokeswoman for the council, issued a written response saying the council considers the resolution "an oversimplification of the issues relating to what is necessary to provide appropriate accommodations for a test taker with a disability."

In its statement, the council said that the ABA's report was based on "outdated, incomplete information that does not accurately reflect current practices and does not take into account the actual experiences of disabled test takers."

The report that accompanied the ABA's resolution pointed out that disabled people are seriously underrepresented in law schools and charged that that is partly because "the testing process relied upon by most law schools in the United States does not afford the same benefits to applicants with disabilities that it affords to other applicants."

Several test takers have sued the Law School Admission Council over its accommodation policies. Most recently, Scott A. Schlager, from Weston, Mass., filed a lawsuit contending that the council violated his rights by giving him only one and a half times the usual amount of time to take the Law School Admission Test. Mr. Schlager, who says he has a "lifelong and well-documented learning disorder and cognitive disorder," had requested twice the usual time.