The Unit for Students with Disabilities (USD) was established in February 2001 with 15 registered students and currently supports ±140 registered students. Since 2010 the role of the USD has grown to ensure implementation of universal access. The USD supports an inclusive view on disability, as indicated by South African legislation, recognising the fact that disability is a varying and personal matter. It is a support service to students with disabilities and together with the core staff of the University it:

  • focuses to promote equity for students with disabilities, which implies access to courses, buildings, learning material, residences, leisure and sport activities and the opportunity to succeed in such activities. The USD offers assistance to all relevant persons in the academic process and other aspects of student life.
  • looks at possibilities for the full integration of students with disabilities on campus in all environments of academic life and on an equal level with their fellow students.
  • coordinates and facilitates in cooperation with other role-players on campus to assist students to gain access to:
    - Study courses
    - Inaccessible buildings
    - Learning material
    - Residences
    - Sporting activities
    - South African Sign Language interpreter or lip-speaking services
    - Classrooms
    - Computer facilities
    - Specialised exam and test venue for alternative test and exam procedures
    - Possible bursaries & loans
  • provides a support service to the following categories of students with disabilities:
    - Learning-impaired (Dyslexia, ADD/ADHD)
    - Physically impaired (wheelchair users, amputees, Cerebral Palsy, Muscle Dystrophy, Spina Bifida, Multiple Sclerosis)
    - Blind and partially sighted students
    - Deaf, Hard of Hearing and deafened students
    - "Other" (psychological or sensory i.e. Schizophrenia, Epilepsy, Panic disorder)
  • includes in its support service:
    - the option of writing tests/exams with amanuensis.
    - extra time according to their specific impairment.
    - arrangement of tutor support for students.
    - providing an accessible computer lab and text enlargers to study, read and write tests/exams.
    - assistance with making arrangements to obtain alternative furniture and adapted hardware.
    - providing transcriptions of academic and/or university related material for UFS students in alternative formats – Braille; large print; e-text and audio.

    The USD commits itself fully to the vision of the University of the Free State (UFS): "A university recognised across the world for excellence in academic achievement and in human reconciliation."

    The values of the USD are:
  • Commitment (including accountability, cohesion and trust)
  • Excellence (including innovation and inspiration)
  • Integrity (including honesty, respect and fairness)
  • Compassion

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