In October 2021, Disability Rights Advocates and TRE Legal Practice filed a disability rights lawsuit in California State Court against the California Department of Insurance (CDI) for its failure to ensure the accessibility of its licensing exam for insurance agents for blind applicants. The lawsuit also includes claims against PSI Services, the private entity that CDI contracts with to administer the exam.
The case challenges both entities’ failure to ensure that the exam is accessible to blind individuals who use screen reading software that audibly reads visually displayed text. Read the complaint here.
DRA and TRE represent two blind individuals, Angela Fowler and Miguel Mendez who have been impacted by CDI and PSI’s discriminatory administration of the insurance exam. Last year Ms. Fowler was provisionally hired by an insurance carrier to become a sales agent, pending her obtaining a California insurance license. However, when she actually attempted to take the licensing exam she was unable to do so because the online exam system is not accessible to blind persons who use screen reading software.
Despite repeated requests from Ms. Fowler and the fact that California’s disability access laws require them to do so, CDI and PSI refused to affirmatively make the exam accessible. Instead they stated that Ms. Fowler would need to engage in a burdensome accommodations-request process that included submission of her medical records, before they would consider allowing her to use a screen reader, a process which nondisabled applicants are not subject to. Ms. Fowler ended up being unable to take the insurance job she was provisionally hired for as a result of the delays she experienced in taking the exam in a format that is accessible to her.
This lawsuit aims to require CDI And PSI to ensure that its insurance exam is affirmatively accessible to all applicants including those who use screen readers, in accordance with California law.