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Report Faults Justice Department for Failing Americans with Disabilities

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Report Faults Justice Department for Failing Americans with Disabilities

January 3, 2012

The Department of Justice is failing Americans with disabilities by not holding educational testing companies accountable for meeting their needs, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The report found that only 2 percent of people taking postsecondary exams received special accommodations in the most recent testing year. That's a far smaller rate than the 12 percent of Americans who have disabilities.

GAO also found that the DOJ is not properly enforcing provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act that require testing companies to provide accommodations to make tests accessible for people with disabilities. The law also requires that test-takers' achievement on the tests reflect their aptitude rather than their disability, by givingpeople with dyslexia more time to answer for example.

The report was commissioned by the top Democrats on the House Education and Workforce Committee and its health panel, Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Pete Stark (D-CA). The two lawmakers called on Attorney General Eric Holder to adopt the report's recommendations.

"After reviewing this study," they wrote to Holder, "we request the DOJ develop a strategic approach to strengthen testing companies' compliance with the law and ensure individuals with disabilities receive access to accommodations."

In particular, the lawmakers called for greater cooperation between DOJ and the Education and Health and Human Services departments, which also have jurisdiction under the Americans with Disabilities Act.