National Federation of the Blind Applauds Historic Iowa Supreme Court Decision
Decision Affirms Right of Blind People to Enter Chiropractic Medicine Field
Des Moines, Iowa (June 27, 2014): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) today applauded the Iowa Supreme Court for its decision in the landmark case of Aaron Cannon and Davenport Civil Rights Commission v. Palmer College of Chiropractic. In a five to two ruling, the Iowa Supreme Court reinstituted the decision of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission, which found that Palmer College of Chiropractic violated Aaron Cannon’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Iowa law by requiring that chiropractic students possess sight and by not providing Cannon the reasonable accommodation of a sighted reader. The commission also ordered that Palmer reinstate Cannon and pay economic damages.
“We know that blind men and women have successfully obtained chiropractic degrees and practiced chiropractic medicine for decades,” said Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “Today’s ruling affirms the right of all blind people to an equal education, specifically regarding the ability of the blind to pursue medical careers.”
“For a long time, courts have given academic institutions almost absolute deference in determining whether to provide accommodations to students with disabilities. Today’s decision makes a critically important statement that even though educational institutions have the right to determine their curricula, they still must provide equal opportunity and accommodations,” said Scott LaBarre, the attorney for Aaron Cannon who argued the case before the Iowa Supreme Court.
Aaron Cannon was represented by attorneys Scott LaBarre and Susan Rockwood Gashel of the Denver firm LaBarre Law Offices and by Alan Olson of Olson Law Offices from Des Moines, Iowa. Mehgan Sidhu, general counsel for the Federation, filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind.