The Supreme Court's Justice DY Chandrachud on Thursday expressed concern that law entrance tests in India, including the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), continue to neglect the needs of disabled students, thereby excluding them from the legal profession. .Such tests do not account for the unique challenges faced by disabled test takers, he said, calling upon the CLAT body to address the issues at the earliest. ."The tests that serve as entry points to enter the legal profession, most notably the Common Law Admission Test, are set out in a way that does not account for the unique challenges faced by disabled test-takers and places them in a disadvantageous position vis-à-vis their able-bodied counterparts", Justice Chandrachud said. .He was delivering the valedictory address at a three-day International Summit on the theme Legal Professionals with Disabilities. .As an illustration, Justice Chandrachud observed that blind students are called to solve questions that require visual and spatial understanding without being offered appropriate training or, alternatively, accessible questions.."If CLAT is listening to me today, I am sure this is something that we need to address at the earliest, namely, the exclusion, which CLAT by its very design, has perpetrated on the entry of the most talented students in the legal profession", he appealed. .Justice Chandrachud further observed that for a disabled student, the challenge does not end when she gets into law school. Rather, it just marks the beginning. Many law schools in India lack ramps, barrier-free environments, and other facilities needed by disabled students, he pointed out.."When it comes to internships and participating in law school life, the disabled must face the prospect of having to deal with unfounded biases, a lack of an understanding of their actual needs", he added..Urging that there is a need to become more perceptive to their rights, Justice Chandrachud said:"It is unfair to place the burden of assimilation squarely on the shoulders of disabled students. Our law schools must develop mechanisms and cells like the Equal Opportunity Cell here (at ILS) to address the unique needs of disabled students...".Watch the full session:.In his welcome address, Dr. Sanjay Jain, Principal of ILS Law College, commented that with will power and tenacity, anything can be achieved. Gone are the days when persons with disabilities were simply looked down upon, he added. Citing the example of Nani Palkhivala, he said,."When I was reading about him (Palkhivala) I came to know that the Bombay University refused to hire him because of his stammering. Thank God, otherwise, we could have lost a brilliant lawyer.".The keynote address for the session was given by Danlami Umaru Basharu, Executive Director of the Anglo Nigeria Welfare Association for the Blind and Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities..The event also marked the release of a book featuring interviews of 21 lawyers with disabilities across the globe. Compiled by Advocate Rahul Bajaj, the book is titled It can be done: The IDAP Interview Series..Advocate Bajaj explained that the book was aimed to foster dialogue, to make people question their assumptions, and to transform themselves into allies for disabled people. .Being a visually impaired lawyer himself, Bajaj recounted,"When I was a law student 4-5 years ago and approached law firms and other employers in the search for internships, I realised that they knew precious little about what it concretely took to accommodate a person with a disability in their organisation. It was from that string of experiences, and what I have heard from other visually impaired and disabled law students, that the conviction was born to do whatever little I could to help change that state of affairs. This book is a step in that direction.".While there are infrastructural barriers faced by lawyers with disabilities, Bajaj pointed out that some of the challenges are simply attitudinal and stemming from a lack of awareness."In this book, we try to address these attitudinal barriers", he said. .On the need to make e-Courts disabled-friendly.Justice Chandrachud's address also saw him express his appreciation for Bajaj, a Rhodes scholar, who is presently working as the judge's clerk for 2020-21. .Justice Chandrachud spoke of how his interactions with Bajaj had helped him gain a perspective on the problems of governance that people who are disabled face in diverse aspects of their social interaction and development..With Bajaj's inputs, Justice Chandrachud recalled that he became aware that almost all publishing houses of Supreme Court and High Court judgments do not provide access for blind lawyers, academicians, and people from civil society..After failing to make much headway in getting the publishers to effect a change to resolve this issue, Justice Chandrachud informed that an option will shortly be launched by the Supreme Court eCommittee (which he heads) for a judgment search that would be disabled-friendly. This service would be free of charge, he added..Another measure undertaken by the Supreme Court was to make the captcha code on its website accessible to blind persons as well. The earlier text-based captcha code posed serious barriers to accessing information, Justice Chandrachud observed. .He went on to state that by the end of the week, he is planning to write to the Chief Justices of all High Courts to identify specific issues related to technology and the steps that can be taken to ensure access is provided to everyone in an inclusive sense..One issue that has been flagged on this count, Justice Chandrachud observed, was the watermarks placed on copies of court judgments and orders. This may pose a serious barrier for persons with disabilities to access the judgment, Justice Chandrachud said..On re-configuring court filings to make them accessible to disabled lawyers.Court filings need to become accessible to lawyers with disabilities, Justice Chandrachud opined, emphasising, "We have to ensure existing filing practices are reconfigured to take into account their needs.".In this regard, Justice Chandrachud proposed a few measures including the following:Instead of printing and scanning documents, the default procedure should be the submission of pdf documents. The current practice of printing and scanning documents is a futile and time-consuming process that does not serve any purpose, the judge opined. Instead, he recommended the use of digital signatures or signatures on the last page of paper books.For documents that need to be scanned, the scanning should be of high quality and watermarks and stamps should not be placed in such a way as to obstruct access.The onus to make files accessible cannot be placed on a disabled lawyer. Justice Chandrachud added that this would be like serving a file in a foreign language on an able-bodied lawyer and placing the onus on them to translate it..Nature has a unique method of compensating what it deprives.Echoing advocate Bajaj's observations on this count, Justice Chandrachud observed,"Much of the work is on confronting the disabilities of the mind of those who are not physically disabled. We have to confront the disabilities of our own minds.".Even in the Constitution, the references made to persons with disabilities indicate its conceptualisation as a health and welfare issue, as opposed to an understanding that locates disability within the social order, Justice Chandrachud said. .He went on to opine that people have to acknowledge that in one sense, no one is complete. "Nature has a unique method of compensating what it deprives", he remarked, adding that "nature gives you in abundance what it has taken. And it is for the rest of society to understand that none of us is, in that sense, a complete individual.".Referring to the book released yesterday, he pointed out,"When you read these interviews, you would realise that these are sterling individuals who have perhaps been deprived of some part of the faculties which 'normal people' have, but who have been more than compensated in terms of their vision, their imagination, their genius ..."