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25 April 2019 | Story Mamosa Makaya

Since 2016, the University of the Free State Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) has received a grant from First National Bank worth R2 498 000, which supports tertiary bursaries for students with disabilities. Bursary holders are funded through CUADS, as the administrator of the bursaries.
  
These are students enrolled for various academic programmes who require academic assistance and/or assistive devices such as electronic handheld magnifiers, laptops, and hearing aids. The FNB grant also covers tuition, accommodation, study material and books, and meals.  The success of the grant is already evident, with one of the recipients having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in December 2018. A second student was capped at the April 2019 graduations with a BSc Honours in Quantity Surveying.
 
Supporting the principles of the ITP

The UFS received the grant from FNB in instalments, starting in the 2016 academic year to date, supporting the needs of 40 disabled students. This grant and the work of CUADS speaks to and supports the principles of the Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP), namely inclusivity, transformation, and diversity. The vision of the Universal Access work stream is to enable the UFS to create an environment where students with disabilities can experience all aspects of student life equal to their non-disabled peers. The ITP provides for the recognition of the rights of people with disabilities as an important lesson in social justice and an opportunity to reinforce university values.

The successful administration of the grant to benefit past and present students is a ‘feather in the cap’ of CUADS, and is a shining example of the impact of public private investment and the endless possibilities that open up when there is a commitment to developing future leaders in academic spaces, allowing them to thrive by creating a learning environment that is welcoming and empowering. 



News Archive

UFS hosts sign language workshop to educate parents
2017-05-22

Description: Sign language workshop to educate parents Tags: Sign language workshop to educate parents

Back row; from left; John Keitsemore from
Bartimea School for the Deaf; Philip Cook,
the headmaster at De la Bat School for the
Deaf in Worcester; Jeannie Cook, De la Bat School
for the Deaf; front, from left; Marisa Vermeulen, mother
of two deaf children and teacher at Bartimea
School for the Deaf in Thaba Nchu; Marianne Kühn,
audiologist, and Susan Lombaard, acting Head of the
Department of South African Sign Language.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

“Ninety percent of deaf children are born into hearing families. When parents first receive the news, they are shocked, angry and confused,” says Susan Lombaard, Acting head of the Department of South African Sign Language at the University of the Free State (UFS).

The department hosted a workshop, “Early intervention options for the child with a hearing loss”, on Friday 12 May 2017 on the Bloemfontein Campus. “It is the first time a sign language workshop of this kind was hosted by the Department of South African Sign Language at the UFS,” says Lombaard, who facilitated the workshop. They hope to make it an annual event.

Parents of deaf children do not always know how they will communicate with their children or where the child must attend school. The workshop aimed to provide parents with the necessary information on different communication options and also touched on school placement.

Support group for parents established
A support group for parents was also established, the first of its kind in the province. It will provide much-needed support, information and guidance for parents of deaf children.

Some of the speakers at the workshop included Anri Esterhuizen, an audiologist; Marianne Kühn from the Carel du Toit Centre, Marisa Vermeulen, who is a mother of two deaf children, and Phillip Cook, the headmaster at De la Bat School for the Deaf in Worcester, in the Western Cape. Jeannie Cook, also a presenter, provided information on sign language acquisition of the small deaf child, which is done through creative play.

Professionals have responsibility
South African Sign Language is a language in its own right and is not international. “Sign language is a visual language with its own grammar and syntax different from spoken language,” Lombaard said.

There has been much controversy surrounding teaching deaf children to speak and teaching them to sign. “We as professionals have the responsibility to provide information on all options. This is to help the parent make informed decisions about communication and school placement.”

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