Blind student sues to give sightless equal chance to become lawyers

Current law school entrance exam wrongly forces blind students to draw pictures and diagrams to apply

Nyman Turkish PC, a Southfield-based disability and litigation law firm, and the Wayne State University Law School Civil Rights Clinic filed suit this week in Federal Court against the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) on behalf of Angelo Binno, a legally blind man from West Bloomfield who just wants his shot to attend law school.

Binno, who is a graduate of Wayne State University, speaks three languages, previously held a high-level security clearance with the Department of Homeland Security. He has long dreamed of attending law school, but those dreams have been obstructed by the Law School Admission Test, which is written and administered by the LSAC. The law suit alleges that the analytical reasoning, or “logic games” section of the LSAT is totally inaccessible to the blind because it requires test-takers to draw pictures and diagrams in order to be successful.

“I have tried everything possible to do well on the LSAT, but I continue to receive unsatisfactory scores because I can’t draw pictures,” Binno said. “I don’t want any special treatment. I just want the opportunity to compete equally with everyone else. I really don’t think my ability to draw pictures will have any impact on my performance in law school, or in... practice...”

The LSAT became the de facto admission test considered by virtually every law school in the country in the 1990’s, when it was designated by the American Bar Association as a “valid and reliable” predictor of success in law school. Despite being the preeminent law school admission test for more than 20 years, the LSAC has failed to develop an accommodation to make the “logic games” accessible to individuals with visual impairments. 

The LSAC is no stranger to litigation for violations of Federal Disability Law. It has repeatedly been targeted by the Department of Justice for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities.

However, past litigation has not addressed the inaccessibility of the “logic games” for the blind and visually impaired.

“The inaccessibility of the ‘logic games,’ which make up approximately a quarter of the LSAT, has seriously undermined the diversity of the legal practice by keeping otherwise qualified individuals who are blind out of law school,” said Jason Turkish, managing partner of Nyman Turkish PC who is representing Binno in partnership with the Wayne State University Civil Rights Clinic.

“Despite the fact that the LSAT has existed for decades, no one has ever taken the time to adequately address the impact of the logic games on the blind community,” said David Moss, Director of the Wayne State University Civil Rights Clinic. “It is time for that issue to come to the forefront, so that we can ensure that individuals with disabilities have a fair shot to compete, not just for admission, but also for scholarships and other financial aid.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires admissions tests – like the LSAT – to adequately reflect an individual with a disability’s aptitude for the study of the particular field they hope to enter into, not their inability to take the test due to disability. The lawsuit asks the Federal Court to order the LSAC to exempt individuals who are blind, such as Binno, from the analytical reasoning portion of the LSAT. 

“All I want is a fair opportunity, not just for me, but for every person with a disability who has been unable to get their foot in the front door,” Binno said.