18 March 2021 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Sonia Small
UFS Division of Student Affairs launch On the Red Couch pocket guide for staff and a Universal Access Checklist encouraging a socially just student-life experience promoting academic success and all-inclusive student engagement.

In line with their operational mandate that seeks to humanise the lived experiences of students and implore an ethically just society within the University of the Free State (UFS) community, the Division of Student Affairs (DSA) has launched two publications – On the Red Couch: A pocket guide for staff and the Universal Access Checklist.

On the red couch: A pocket guide for staff

On the Red Couch was launched by the UFS Department of Student Counselling and Development (SCD) in support of student well-being. 

The purpose of this pocket guide is to equip staff with information, guidance, and skills to support students who are experiencing mental health distress and to enthuse well-being. The guide highlights a variety of services and tips that SCD educates staff about, ranging from group counselling, career counselling, recognising a student in distress, to enlightening them on how to respond to students in emergency situations.

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close

Universal Access Checklist

In their mission to develop an inclusive institutional culture that provides humanising experiences essential to the academic success and engagement of students, the UFS Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) has developed the Universal Access Checklist. 

This checklist is a comprehensive guide that propels academic and social spaces within the higher education environment to make online as well as face-to-face interactions and events accessible to both staff and students with disabilities. 

The checklist encourages universal design in the planning of events/ gatherings/ meetings and interaction within the university by providing clear guidelines on how the UFS society can effectively embrace all of its members, including being cognisant of the categories of disabilities in its environment, ranging from visual/mobility/hearing impairments to learning difficulties to mental health challenges. 

The checklist also covers subjects concerning accessible university accommodation, hosting events on various platforms, marketing material, food requirements, and preferred pronouns. 

“As a university, we host all kinds of events in person and virtually. It is imperative to ensure that we create opportunities for full participation of all people in order to realise the university’s ideal of an inclusive and socially just institutional culture,” says Mosa Moerane, CUADS Liaison, Advocacy and Awareness Officer.

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