[Nfbnet-members-list] National Federation of the Blind Assists Blind Woman in Litigation Against Massage and Body Work Licensing Authority

Danielsen, Chris CDanielsen at nfb.org
Wed Mar 1 00:10:48 UTC 2017


Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
<mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org>cdanielsen at nfb.org
National Federation of the Blind Assists Blind Woman in Litigation 
Against Massage and Body Work Licensing Authority
Kristen Steele Not Allowed to Take Licensing Examination in Braille

Baltimore, Maryland (February 28, 2017): The National Federation of 
the Blind, the nation's leading advocate for equal education and 
career opportunities for the blind, is assisting Kristen Steele in 
her lawsuit (Case 1:17-cv-00004-RP-SBJ) against the Federation of 
State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), which has denied her request to 
take its examination, the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination 
(MBLEx), in Braille. Ms. Steele seeks to become a licensed massage 
therapist in Iowa and Nebraska, both of which require passing the 
MBLEx in order to receive a license. Strangely, the FSMTB claims that 
Braille would somehow provide her with an unfair advantage.

Ms. Steele began learning Braille at the age of three and is a fluent 
reader. Furthermore, she has used Braille throughout her education, 
including her studies at the Midwest School of Massage in Omaha, NE, 
where she graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Her lawsuit, which has been filed 
in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, 
Western Division, alleges that FSMTB is violating federal law, 
specifically Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 
by denying her request to use Braille to take the MBLEx. Regulations 
pursuant to Title III of the ADA require that testing entities 
administer examinations in ways that best ensure that "when the 
examination is administered to an individual with a disability that 
impairs sensory, manual, or speaking skills, the examination results 
accurately reflect the individual's aptitude or achievement level or 
whatever other factor the examination purports to measure, rather 
than reflecting the individual's impaired sensory, manual, or 
speaking skills . . . " In Ms. Steele's case, this means 
administering the examination in Braille, since she has used Braille 
throughout her education and in similar testing situations, such as 
taking the ACT in high school. Her lawsuit asks the court to order 
FSMTB to administer the MBLEx to her in Braille.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, 
said: "In the nearly two centuries since its invention by a blind 
student, Braille has become widely recognized as the most effective 
means of reading and writing for the blind, and countless blind 
individuals have achieved educational and career success and the 
ability to live the lives we want by using it. Braille does not 
afford Ms. Steele any unfair advantage in taking the MBLEx or any 
other test, any more than using print provides an unfair advantage to 
sighted test takers. Indeed, requiring her to use a method other than 
Braille will place Ms. Steele at an unfair disadvantage compared to 
other test takers. The National Federation of the Blind will continue 
to fight for the right of blind people to use the auxiliary aid of 
their choice when taking high-stakes tests."

Ms. Steele is represented, with the assistance of the National 
Federation of the Blind, by Tai Tomasi of Disability Rights Iowa, and 
by Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum and Emily Levenson of the Baltimore firm 
Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP.


About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the 
characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise 
the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create 
obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life 
you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

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