ADA Tenth Anniversary

Faces of the ADA

Rod Jex -- "The ADA gave me empowerment.
Knowing I had the ADA on my side made me more assertive
in standing up for my rights which made me a better person and allowed my talents and skills to come through."

using a TTY at desk

Becoming a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a daunting task - the national CPA examination is recognized as one of the most difficult professional tests administered in this country. Because of the difficulty of the exam, many accountants enroll in exam preparation courses.

Rod Jex, an accountant who is deaf, prepared for the national exam by enrolling in a Becker CPA Review course, which consisted of several four hour weeknight and eight hour Saturday classes. Becker CPA Review provides preparatory courses to more than 10,000 students nationwide every year. More than one third of the students passing the CPA exam each year are Becker course graduates. However, Becker refused Rod’s repeated requests to provide a sign language interpreter, and instead offered to provide him with copies of instructors’ notes, transcripts of pre-recorded audio lectures, and copies of overhead transparencies used during the class. But Rod believed this was inadequate because instructors routinely stop the recorded lecture to provide additional information or illustrate specific points, sometimes more than 40 times during a single class. Instructors also lead class discussions, answer questions, and supervise students’ written work. Without an interpreter, Rod was unable to ask questions, participate in class discussions, or interact on any level with his peers. In short, he was unable to fully participate in the course.

In a settlement resolving the first lawsuit filed by the Department under the ADA, Becker CPA Review agreed to change its policy and provide sign language interpreters and other auxiliary aids and services to students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Becker also agreed to appoint a national ADA coordinator and to train its staff regarding the new policy. Further, Becker agreed to pay $20,000 to the Department to be distributed to seven former Becker students who are deaf or hard of hearing and to establish a $25,000 scholarship fund for accounting students at California State University who have hearing disabilities.

Rod Jex confers with another person at work

An essential requirement for partnership in major accounting firms throughout the country, the professional CPA license is considered to be a highly valuable and prestigious career asset for an accountant.

The successful resolution of this case had a great impact on Rod Jex, who says "Being a CPA has tremendously improved my career as an accountant. I have gained professional respect and meaningful experience in a short time that otherwise would have taken much longer ... Without the ADA, I would have had a much tougher time passing the CPA exam, as I would not have had the full benefit of the CPA review course ... [I did] by having an interpreter available to interpret professional comments made by the instructors, as well as pertinent questions made by other prospective CPAs taking the class.

"The ADA also gave me peers. Before the Becker CPA Review case, there were very few deaf CPAs. Now, with access to the course and the nationwide attention that this case brought about, there are many more deaf CPAs. This means that increasingly, the deaf population has encountered a professional that can explain important financial elements in a language they can understand ...

"In addition, the ADA gave me empowerment. Knowing I had the ADA on my side made me more assertive in standing up for my rights which made me a better person and allowed my talents and skills to come through. This confidence carried well beyond the CPA exam and into my career. Thank you ADA!"

Other ADA Stories divider Special 10th Anniversary Report divider

July 20, 2000