Streit named new director of student accessibility support

December 4, 2020

Dr. Cara Streit has been named the new director of Student Accessibility Support (SAS), a department within Academic Services. She started her position on Nov. 30.

Streit was initially drawn to Brandeis because of the university’s commitment to social justice, she wrote to The Brandeis Hoot in an email. “I could tell that there is a student body here that lives those social justice values, and will hold University representatives to their responsibility to do the same, and I care about that,” she wrote. “I’m a social worker at my core, I’ve spent the last 13 years at a University with deep social justice values and it’s important to me to always be somewhere that shares those values.”

“Student accessibility support departments can have a key role in fostering a culture of accessibility, boosting student voices, creating accessible spaces for students to be listened to, and translating student experiences into improved and more equitable practices,” Streit wrote, explaining the importance of SAS on college campuses. “We also have a role in supporting faculty in effective implementation of accommodations that students have a legal right to, and in helping them to reach all the learners in their classes.”

Streit has already identified goals to focus on, including increasing awareness of SAS as a support for all students at Brandeis, requesting and implementing accommodations and helping individuals understand disability as diversity and the intersectionality of disability and other identities facing oppression, she wrote to The Hoot in an email.

“I have already started listening and learning, and I’ll make sure that acting on what we learn from listening is a deeply ingrained part of what we do moving forward,” Streit wrote to The Hoot.

SAS fellow Anna Cass ’21 hopes that Streit will continue, and expand, upon collaborations across the university to bring accessibility to the forefront of university decisions, she wrote to The Hoot in an email. 

“Many people haven’t considered that, while accessibility measures are necessary for many people to access and participate in the Brandeis community, they also enhance everyone else’s experience as well,” Cass added. “I hope that [Streit] advances accessibility as part of Brandeis culture.”

As the new director, Streit is committed to working towards long term goals for the university and contributing to the “legal compliance to genuine equity” that is outlined in the university’s plans to grow in the years to come, she wrote to The Hoot. The university has also committed to the development of the Campus Accessibility Committee (CAC), which Streit will be a co-chair with along with Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity Sonia Jurado and Dean of Academic Services Erika Smith. 

Prior to Brandeis, Streit was the inaugural Associate Director and Director of Academics, Innovation and Inclusion of the Threshold Program at Lesley University, according to a BrandeisNOW article

While at Lesley University, Streit “oversaw inclusive education programming and curriculum building for students with intellectual, developmental, learning and physical disabilities,” read the BrandeisNOW article. She also examined the accessibility of physical buildings and virtual spaces and worked with students and families to address disability accommodation needs. 

Streit received her bachelor’s degree from Boston College, her Master of Social Work from Simmons University and a Doctorate of Education in Special Education from Boston University and is a licensed social worker in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

The university has been working to fill the position of director of SAS after the previous director, Beth Rodgers-Kay, announced her retirement in Sept. 2019, according to an earlier Hoot article. Scott Kalicki has served as the interim director prior to Streit’s appointment. 

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