POLICY FOR APPLICANTS WITH DISABILITIES
It is the policy of the New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners ("Board") to administer the New Hampshire bar examination in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and its applicable regulations (“ADA”). The Board provides reasonable nonstandard testing accommodations for applicants who are disabled under the ADA, and who have demonstrated a need for accommodation by providing in a timely manner a complete application, and the required forms and supporting documentation. The Board will provide modifications to standard testing conditions which alleviate the impact of the applicant’s impairment on the examination process without 1) fundamentally altering the nature of the examination; 2) imposing an undue administrative or financial burden on the Board; 3) compromising the security, validity, or reliability of the examination; or 4) providing an unfair advantage to the applicant with the disability. Individuals with disabilities will not be tested separately from other examinees unless necessary to ensure that the test is equally effective for all examinees. If the individual prefers not to accept a reasonable accommodation, the Board will not require that the accommodation be accepted.
"Disability" is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of the applicant, as defined by the ADA, applicable regulations, and case law. In the bar examination setting, the impairment must limit an applicant’s ability to demonstrate under standard testing conditions, that the applicant possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities tested on the bar examination.
"Physical impairment" is a physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the body’s systems.
"Mental impairment" is a mental or psychological disorder such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, or any specific learning disability.
“Major life activities” include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.
"Reasonable nonstandard testing accommodation" is an adjustment or modification of the standard testing conditions or an appropriate auxiliary aid or service, that ameliorates the impact of the applicant’s disability without fundamentally altering the nature of the examination, including but not limited to compromising the validity or reliability of the examination, imposing an undue burden on the Board, or jeopardizing examination security.
“Qualified professional” is a licensed physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other health care provider who has appropriate training in the field related to the applicant’s disability, and who conducted an individualized assessment of the applicant.
REQUESTS FOR ACCOMMODATIONS
The applicant must submit, on or before the deadline for the application to take the New Hampshire bar examination, a request for nonstandard testing accommodations on forms prescribed by the Board (Form A, Form B, Form B-LD (if applicable), Form B-ADHD (if applicable) and Form C). The deadline for the February bar examination is December 1, and the deadline for the July bar examination is May 1. The request must describe the disability, the accommodation requested, and how the accommodation will ameliorate the applicant’s disability. The applicant must submit current and comprehensive supporting medical documentation and an evaluation report from a qualified professional who conducted an individualized assessment and who gave the diagnosis that forms the basis of the request. The request and all supporting documentation must be submitted with the application to take the New Hampshire bar examination, and one complete copy of the request, including all attachments, must also be submitted to the Chair of the Board of Bar Examiners, Gordon J. MacDonald, Esquire, Nixon Peabody LLP, 900 Elm Street,14th Floor, Manchester, NH 03101. Late requests will be denied, and no materials submitted after the application deadline will be considered.
Medical or other documentation must be sufficiently recent to demonstrate a current impairment. Use the following guidelines to determine whether your documentation is sufficiently recent. Failure to provide recent medical documentation may result in the rejection of your request as incomplete.
Accommodation requests based on Physical, Vision, or Hearing Disabilities. If the disability has been present since birth, or is expected to be permanent, or is not expected to improve over time, the applicant must provide a copy of his or her most recent medical evaluation. If the disability has not been present since birth, or is expected to be temporary, or is expected to improve with time, the applicant should provide medical documentation that is no more than one year old measured from the date of the evaluation to the date of the current application.
Accommodation requests based on Learning Disabilities, ADHD, or other Cognitive Disorders. The applicant’s medical documentation should be no more than three years old measured from the date of the evaluation to the date of the current application. For individuals with a documented history since childhood of learning disabilities, ADHD, or other cognitive disorders, documentation no more than five years old will be considered.
Accommodation requests based on Psychiatric Disabilities. The applicant’s medical documentation should be no more than one year old measured from the date of the evaluation to the date of the current application.
Medical or other documentation must be comprehensive. The medical documentation must be sufficient to establish a disability under the ADA and to establish the need for testing accommodations. Any accommodation request should be tied specifically to a functional limitation that supports the need for the accommodation. If the request is based on a learning disability, ADHD, or other cognitive disorder, the applicant must provide copies of any available historical documentation that can establish a childhood onset (i.e. elementary school) of symptoms and impairment. These early symptoms and impairments should be documented beyond self-report, and may include such items as elementary school report cards, teacher comments, individualized education plans (IEP’s), 504 plans, and documentation from tutors or learning specialists. Medical documentation concerning the applicant’s first formal diagnosis is also helpful and should be provided where available. It may also be helpful to provide narrative information from third parties who have known the applicant well, such as parents, spouses, professors, special education specialists, or others, and who can describe their observations of the applicant’s behavior in managing his or her disability and functional limitations.
Requests for testing accommodations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Additional documentation may be requested and the applicant’s records may be referred to a qualified professional for evaluation at the expense of the Board. The Chair will issue a written statement granting, denying, or modifying the request for accommodation.
If the requested accommodation is denied or modified, the Chair’s decision becomes final unless, within fourteen (14) days of the date of the Chair’s decision, the applicant files with General Counsel an original and three copies of a written appeal. The procedures for appealing the Chair’s decision are set forth in the Board of Bar Examiner Regulation III.
If you have any questions about the Board’s policies with respect to reasonable accommodations in testing, you should call Sherry M. Hieber, Esquire, General Counsel, at (603) 224-8806.