27 January 2018 Photo Moeketsi Mogotsi
Striving for a more accessible UFS
Newly tactile-paved walkways around the Bloemfontein Campus

Crossing roads and accessing buildings has always been a challenge for people with visual impairments. They had to rely on peripheral sounds, such as car brakes and cues. However, after the installation of tactile paving – paving with special textures assisting the visually impaired to feel the difference between walking around on campus and crossing the road, this will no longer be a problem at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Special features designed to aid visually-impaired persons

Work already done includes the replacement of existing paving with tactile paving aimed at assisting the visually impaired. “These paving blocks have special features that can warn and help in giving the visually impaired directions when using their walking sticks,” says Maureen Khati, Assistant Director of Project Management: Facilities Planning. This is one of several developments completed by University Estates’ Department of Facilities Planning, in order to ensure that the university attains its key component in providing a high-quality student experience.

Khati says, “We saw the need to install these paving blocks in strategic spaces, as identified by the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS).” She says these blocks will make it easier for people with visual impairments.

These installations have special features that will assist those students and employees with limited vision or blindness to navigate through pedestrian crossings and the different campus buildings.
The university chose a unique design of tactile paving that focuses on warning and directing those with visual impairments.

UFS eager to improve accessibility and mobilitys

The university, and all the stakeholders involved in this initiative, are delighted to be embarking on this project and are looking forward to its successful execution. To improve accessibility and mobility, more accessible entrances and exits will be built, effective signage will be installed inside and outside buildings, but the most important aspect is that dedicated seating space will be made available in lecture rooms for special-needs students.

Khati says, “More focus has been put on installing ramps in all buildings to make them more accessible for people with disabilities, as well as other needs required to enhance accessibility at the UFS.”

For the UFS, this initiative is one of many to come, as extensive research is being done and priorities are implemented accordingly.



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