New director of Student Accessibility Support shares her plans, goals
Dr. Cara Streit discussed her new role and plans to make campus more accommodating in the midst of COVID-19.
Dr. Cara Streit is the new director of Student Accessibility Support, according to a Nov. 30 BrandeisNow article, following the unexpected departure of Beth Rodgers-Kay in the fall of 2019. The Justice reached out to Streit to learn about her plans for the department.
Streit’s career in social work spans over a decade. She most recently served as the Associate Director and Director of Academics, Innovation and Inclusion of the Threshold Program at Lesley University. Streit holds a Bachelor of Science from Boston College, a Master of Social Work from Simmons University and a Doctorate of Education in Special Education from Boston University.
“Accessibility isn’t about accommodations,” Streit wrote in a Feb. 13 email to the Justice. “It’s about reducing the need for accommodations in the first place by fostering a culture of inclusion in which everyone has equitable access to opportunities.” Accessibility has been a part of her life since she was in college, Streit explained, mentioning that while she was an undergraduate student at Boston College, she was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.
“Disability takes many forms, and many people who qualify as having one don’t necessarily identify that way, making it difficult to seek out support that would be helpful,” she wrote.
According to Streit, the need for accessibility accommodations has increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, because while the online class structure works for some people, for others it does not. At SAS, the main objective is to work individually with students to ensure that every need is accounted for, regardless of what their needs entail.
Looking to the future, Streit mentioned that she plans to actively make changes based on input from students. Streit noted that since it is taking longer for students to receive care as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been working to make it easier for students to receive academic accommodations by providing “provisional accommodations”, which according to Streit “can help students get started with support earlier, positively impacting their academic progress.” Streit is also currently working on making forms more available to students regarding accessibility requests, specifically highlighting forms for submitting a facilities request and for any other accessibility-related requests.
Streit concluded the email by acknowledging pride in her staff — Senior Accessibility Specialist Kaitlyn Rogers, Accessibility Specialist for Undergraduate Students Elizabeth Nako, Accessibility Specialist for Graduate Students Jaspreet Mahal and Program Administrator Lenny Prado — and the work they do in ensuring that students have support and resources. Streit noted the creation of the SAS Instagram page, where she and her team will be posting supportive information for the Brandeis community. Finally, she encouraged students who have any questions about accessibility support to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.