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Queen's University
 

Arenson v La School Admission Council, Inc.  [2010] OHRTD No 46.

 What are the rights and responsibilities of the student with a learning disability who requests an exam accommodation and those of the service provider which administers the exam?  

Facts:

The applicant, Emma Arenson, has a learning disability. In 2009, she filed an application against the Law School Admission Council Inc. (LSAC), which administers the LSAT in Canada claiming that it failed to provide her with accommodation for her learning disability-related needs.   

When the applicant first filed her complaint, LSAC refused to provide a complete response on the grounds that the case did not fall under provincial jurisdiction.  The Tribunal ruled that although LSAC was an American-based company with no employees in Ontario, its provision of services in Ontario brought it under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.   It ordered LSAC to provide a complete response to Arenson’s application. The Tribunal refused to grant Arenson an interim remedy which would have allowed her to write the exam in 2010, because it is was not necessary to make an immediate ruling in order to make justice prevail.

In 2010, after receiving the full response from LSAC, the Tribunal ordered the LSAT service provider to compensate the applicant financially ($5000) and to grant her the opportunity to retake the LSAT exam at no addition cost. It was finally ordered to provide an individual assessment of Areson’s accommodation requests which included:

  • Double time
  • Provision of a reader, a meeting with the reader before the exam,
  • The use of a computer with a writing program, a spell check and a printer
  • Provision of standard breaks plus five minute breaks between sections
  • Access to a private room in which to write the test.

The individual assessment of these requests was to be conducted in good faith and in adherence to the following policies, reproduced below in bold.   

THE POLICIES

Evaluating Reports

  • Absent a misrepresentation of by Arenson’s Evaluator, LSAC will grant the requested test accommodation where she submits the following documentation
    • The Evaluator Form and Evaluation Report that addresses Arenson’s condition and how it affects her ability to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) under standard conditions
    • Documentation of a history of use of the requested accommodation or comparable accommodation on other standardized testing, or by an accredited university or college; and
    • The Candidate form
    • If Arenson does not have the documentation in paragraph 1(a)  (ii) above, LSAC will give considerable weight to the recommendation of Arenson’s Evaluator where the Evaluator provides the documentation required in the Evaluator Form and the Evaluator Report of Arenson’s condition and how it affects Arenson’s ability to take the LSAT under standard conditions.
      • LSAC shall provide breaks during test sections where Arenson’s evaluator has submitted documentation that establishes the need for this accommodation. If Arenson is granted the accommodation of breaks “as needed” the proctor will stop the clock during the breaks.
      • LSAC is not required to provide an accommodation that would fundamentally alter what the LSAT is intended to test; jeopardize exam security; or, in the case of auxiliary aides and services, result in undue hardship.

 

Comment:

This decision clarifies the rights and responsibilities of both parties in the individual assessment of accommodation requests based on learning disability:

The rights and responsibilities of the applicant:  
  • The applicant had the right to receive an individualized assessment, conducted in good faith, of her accommodation requests
  • The applicant has the responsibility to provide documentation: an evaluation report, documentation of the history of the accommodation, and a candidate form
  • The service provider has the responsibility to conduct an individualized assessment of the candidate’s request for accommodation
  • The service provide has the right to documentation: an evaluation report, documentation of the history of the accommodation, and a candidate form
  • The service provider has the right to reject accommodation requests which compromise academic standards, exam security or cause other undue hardship (in the case of auxiliary aides and services)
The rights and responsibilities of the applicant:  
  •   The service provider has the responsibility to conduct an individualized assessment of the candidate’s request for accommodation
  • The service provide has the right to documentation: an evaluation report, documentation of the history of the accommodation, and a candidate form
  • The service provider has the right to reject accommodation requests which compromise academic standards, exam security or cause other undue hardship (in the case of auxiliary aides and services)

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