Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – Licensing Update Two

Some of the Matilda Ziegler readers asked me to update them on what’s happening with my New York State family therapy licensing discrimination case. In short, I am looking to retain an attorney or legal services agency to take my case.

I am being denied equal access due to the computer-based test not being offered to me like it is offered to my sighted peers. Last year, I asked a blindness organization to help me retain an attorney, but they rejected my request. I wrote letters to my governor and local and state politicians, but no one has taken up the torch on my behalf. Last October, I found an attorney in Maryland who won a similar case for a law student taking the bar exam. I contacted the legal firm, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), but they, too, passed on my case.

Another attorney, who won a similar case in another state, directed me to an attorney here in New York who takes similar cases. In August, I sent my paperwork and fee into the attorney for a consultation. After a rough start, they reviewed the case, said it had merit, but did not take the case on contingency. I would have had to pay a large retainer and I declined. The $500 consultation fee will hopefully be partially returned to me.

Needless to say, I am very disappointed. The attorney did say I have a strong ADA title 2 case, but the mess of bureaucratic red tape is preventing me from taking the exam with a screen reader or comparable technology. I am back to the beginning, trying to find an attorney or legal practice who will represent me in filing a Federal Title 2 suit against New York State and the testing contractor.

If anyone reading this can help, please contact me at 914-393-6605 or dungarees@optonline.net

Editor’s note: What Ann is experiencing is not only wrong, it is in violation of the ADA. And yet, it persists. She isn’t asking for an unfair advantage, she isn’t asking for a hand-out. She’s asking for access to an exam to further her career. I have encouraged Ann to keep us informed on the issue, as this is something that does not only affect her, but sets a precedent for every visually impaired person who is denied equal access to these types of exams. By shedding light on this issue, we will hopefully spread awareness and bring about a much needed change.

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