There has been a lot of discussion regarding the challenges Brandeis community members with disabilities face. Formally beginning in the fall of 2018 with the letter to President Ron Liebowitz, followed by forums and working groups in 2019, members of the community have gathered together and petitioned for more attention to be given to this important issue. 

The formation of the Campus Accessibility Committee “has been in discussion for almost a year now and was originall[y] planned to be launched in the spring of 2020,” Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Americans with Disabilities Act/Section 504 Coordinator Sonia Jurado, Interim Director of Student Accessibility Services Scott Kalicki and Dean of Academic Services Erika Smith wrote in an Oct. 23 email to the Justice. They explained that COVID-19 delayed the formation of the committee by a semester.

CAC is meant to be a place where the community can “start the process of problem-solving” the concerns brought to members for consideration. Jurado, Kalicki and Smith said that “by having the right stakeholders at the table, we can start the process of addressing and resolving those issues.”

This committee will serve as a “forum where concerns about accessibility within our community can be brought to the University’s attention by students, staff and faculty,” the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion wrote in an Oct. 13 email to community members.

Jurado, Kalicki and Smith are inviting students, staff and faculty who are interested in participating in this work to complete a committee application in order to become more involved. They will accept applications through Oct. 28. The Committee anticipates having two to four student representatives and two to four staff and faculty representatives “who can bring issues from their communities to the committee for consideration.” Once members of the committee have been identified, the committee will meet to start planning how to do this work, as well as what they as a group hope to accomplish. 

Members of CAC are expected to meet between one to two times per month, according to the email from ODEI. The group hopes to meet at least once before the end of the calendar year. “The committee will continue to meet and work on these issues for as long as it is needed to support accessibility at Brandeis,” Jurado, Kalicki and Smith wrote. 

Following the announcement of the creation of CAC, Jurado, Kalicki and Smith explained that they received many responses about accessibility concerns, including a response from an emerita faculty member. She “reached out to express difficulties she faced when she had a temporary disability back when she taught her[e] some years ago,” they said. “She, like others, including leaders of the undergraduate Student Union, as well as the Heller Disability Working Group, have expressed excitement — which we share — that we will be able to hear about these challenges on a more regular basis, and problem-solve together.”