edited by Sharon Strzalkowski
The announcement of products and services in this column does not represent an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its officers, or staff. Listings are free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The ACB Braille Forum" cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned. To submit items for this column, send a message firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone the national office at 1-800-424-8666, and leave a message in Sharon Lovering's mailbox. Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.
West Virginia University (WVU) is seeking applicants for the position of Director of the WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities (CED). The CED Director serves as a member of the Health Sciences Executive Committee and is responsible for program development, liaison with state and national offices and agencies, management of financial and human resources, and facilities. The incumbent will provide direction and leadership toward the achievement of the organization's mission, strategic goals, and objectives outlined in the 5-year strategic proposal. The director will have a faculty appointment within the appropriate school and department.
The director is responsible for all aspects of program development, human resources, financial, and leadership functions within the CED. This includes but is not limited to: completing financial transactions and personnel actions in accordance with University Policy and Procedure, building and maintaining a high-caliber work force, and overseeing the design, marketing, promotion, and delivery of all products and services. He or she will provide expert leadership and management oversight, while developing and maintaining relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders at the local, state, and national levels.
Applicants must have at least a master’s degree in a related field; those with a doctoral degree in a related field are encouraged to apply. Qualified candidates must have a minimum of 5 years' experience in organizational development, building and sustaining programs, leveraging public and private funds, and managing complex organizations. Demonstrated success in financial management, governance issues, administration, and leadership within an organization is also required. The successful candidate will have outstanding interpersonal and communication skills, ability to work collaboratively as well as in a leadership role, and possess extensive knowledge of the field of disabilities; especially federal, state and local policies, practices and systems. A minimum of 10 years total experience in a relevant field is required.
Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Applications should be e-mailed to Grace Boyles, email@example.com, with a cover letter, current resume and contact information, including e-mail addresses, for three professional references. Interested candidates may contact the chair of the search committee, Leslie Miele, at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
LSAC Agrees to Reforms
The Justice Department filed a joint motion for entry of a landmark consent decree to resolve allegations that the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) engaged in widespread and systemic discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the proposed consent decree, LSAC will pay $7.73 million in penalties and damages to compensate over 6,000 individuals nationwide who applied for testing accommodations on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) over the past five years. The decree also requires comprehensive reforms to LSAC’s policies and ends its practice of “flagging,” or annotating, LSAT score reports for test takers with disabilities who receive extended time as an accommodation. These reforms will impact tens of thousands of test takers with disabilities for years to come.
The United States intervened in DFEH v. LSAC Inc., which was originally brought on behalf of California test takers in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The United States’ intervention expanded the case to ensure comprehensive and nationwide relief under Title III of the ADA for individuals with disabilities who request testing accommodations for the LSAT – a required examination for anyone seeking admission to an American Bar Association approved law school in the United States. The allegations in the complaint detail LSAC’s routine denial of testing accommodation requests, even in cases where applicants have a permanent physical disability or submitted thorough supporting documentation from qualified professionals and demonstrated a history of testing accommodations since childhood. Without the necessary accommodations, test takers with disabilities are denied an equal opportunity to demonstrate their aptitude and achievement level. The lawsuit further alleged that LSAC engages in discrimination prohibited by the ADA through its practice of flagging the LSAT score reports of individuals who received extended time as a testing accommodation, thereby identifying to law schools that the test taker is a person with a disability.
Under the consent decree, LSAC has agreed to:
- put a permanent end to the practice of flagging the LSAT score reports of individuals with disabilities who take the LSAT with the common testing accommodation of extended time;
- pay $7.73 million to be allocated for a civil penalty, compensation to individuals named in the United States’ and other plaintiffs’ complaints, and a nationwide victims’ compensation fund;
- streamline its evaluation of requests for testing accommodations by automatically granting most testing accommodations that a candidate can show s/he has previously received for a standardized exam related to post-secondary admissions (such as the SAT, ACT or GED, among others); and
- implement additional best practices for reviewing and evaluating testing accommodation requests as recommended by a panel of experts (to be created by the parties).
Individuals who applied for testing accommodations from LSAC between Jan. 1, 2009, and the court’s entry of the consent decree may be eligible to receive a monetary award from a nationwide victims’ compensation fund. The claims administrator for the fund has not yet been determined; this information will be posted on LSAC’s web site following entry of the consent decree by the court. Questions about the victims’ compensation fund should be directed to the claims administrator.
For more information or for a copy of the consent decree, visitwww.ada.gov/defh_v_lsac/lsac_consentdecree.htm
H&R Block, DOJ Enter Consent Decree
Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels of the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts announced that they have entered into a consent decree with HRB Digital LLC and HRB Tax Group Inc., subsidiaries of H&R Block Inc., to remedy alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The decree resolves the department’s allegations that individuals with disabilities are denied full and equal enjoyment of largely tax-preparation focused goods and services that are provided through H&R Block’s web site and mobile applications. The decree has been filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts for the court’s approval.
On Dec. 11, 2013, the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts filed a complaint in intervention in the lawsuit National Federal of the Blind (NFB) et al. v. HRB Digital LLC et al. to enforce Title III of the ADA. The complaint alleged that H&R Block failed to code its web site in a manner that would make it accessible to individuals who have vision, hearing and physical disabilities. As described in the complaint, individuals with disabilities use various assistive technologies to access the Internet, including screen reader software, refreshable braille displays, keyboard navigation and captioning, among others that are not currently compatible with H&R Block’s web site.
Under the terms of the five-year decree, H&R Block’s web site, tax filing utility and mobile apps will conform to the Level AA Success Criteria of the WCAG 2.0. In addition, the H&R Block web site will be accessible for the start of the next tax filing term on Jan. 1, 2015, with additional accessibility deadlines over the following years of the decree. Additionally, HRB Digital and HRB Tax Group have agreed to: appoint a skilled web accessibility coordinator who will report to H&R Block’s chief information officer; adopt a web accessibility policy; initiate training on accessible design for its web content personnel; evaluate employee and contractor performance based on successful web access programming; conduct regular automated and user group testing; and hire an approved outside consultant to prepare annual independent evaluations of Block’s online accessibility. H&R Block will also pay $45,000 to the two individual plaintiffs, and a $55,000 civil penalty.
New NLS Network Division Chief Appointed
Richard Smith has been selected as the new chief of the Network Division at NLS and will begin his duties on June 16, 2014. Richard has 20 years of experience in the NLS network, including six years as director of the Louisiana Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and 14 years as director of the Wolfner Library Talking Books and Braille Library in Missouri. He also has served as Midlands chair and as a member of the NLS digital-transition committee.
Richard holds both an MLS and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Library and Information Science, and has several years of experience teaching library science with an emphasis on automation and technology.
New Members of Hall of Fame
Michael Collins and Newel Perry will be inducted into the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field in October.
Collins dedicated 30 years of his career to Perkins, first as supervisor of the Perkins School for the Blind’s campus-based Deafblind Program and then as founder and director of the Hilton/Perkins International Program, with the mission of training teachers to teach children who are deaf-blind with multiple disabilities in developing countries. Under his leadership, the program grew from serving a few hundred students to helping more than 10,000 children annually in 63 countries.
Dr. Newel Perry was called the father of the modern civil rights movement of the blind. According to Matson (1990), Perry "presided as mentor and godfather to the [organized blind] movement," spawning the California Council of the Blind (1934), the National Federation of the Blind (1940) and the American Council of the Blind (1961). In 1912, Dr. Perry took the post which would define his career, Director of Advanced Studies at the California School for the Blind, and was in this position until retirement in 1947. He is best known for having mentored "Perry's Boys (and Girls)," a group of talented blind young men and women who would, with Perry's assistance, begin the organized blind movement of advocacy and civil rights.