DOJ, NBME Reach Settlement in ADA Complaint

John Commins, February 23, 2011

The National Board of Medical Examiners has agreed to provide "reasonable testing accommodations" and remove other barriers for people with disabilities who want to take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination, the Department of Justice has announced. 

The agreement disclosed this week settles an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint that was lodged against the private, nonprofit NBME by Frederick Romberg, a Yale Medical School student with dyslexia who was twice denied "reasonable testing accommodations" to take the exam. With the settlement, Romberg will be given double the standard testing time and a separate testing area to take the USMLE.

"In the past, demands for unnecessary or redundant documentation, burdensome and expensive repeated professional evaluations, or irrelevant evaluative testing unrelated to the ability to demonstrate one's knowledge or skills on an examination prevented individuals with appropriately documented disabilities from pursuing their chosen professions." said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for DOJ's Civil Rights Division. "By entering into this agreement, NBME is doing its part to ensure that people with a reading disability like Mr. Romberg will have the opportunity to take the USMLE with the reasonable testing accommodations they need to demonstrate their knowledge and ability."

Under the agreement, the NBME will:

· Only request documentation about (a) the existence of a physical or mental impairment; (b) whether the applicant's impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities within the meaning of the ADA; and (c) whether and how the impairment limits the applicant's ability to take the USMLE under standard conditions;

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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