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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

Cochlear implant changes Magteld's world
2009-11-06

The microphone is ready for Magteld Smith’s (second from the left) first radio interview after the cochlear implant was switched on by Mr Henk Wolmarans (right) of MedEl. With them are, from the left: Ms Vicki Fourie, Deaf Miss SA, Ms Eunika Smith from the SABC and Prof. Jonathan Jansen.
Photo: Leatitia Pienaar


Magteld Smith gave her first steps towards the world of the hearing when her cochlear implant was switched on in the Universitas Hospital this week.

A whole team was there to share her joy and disbelief and amazement the moment she could hear noises, voices and conversations. Among them were the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof. Jonathan Jansen, and the acting dean of the Faculty of Heath Sciences at the UFS, Prof. Gert van Zyl.

“I can hear my own voice! I haven’t heard it for a long time. My wish is that every deaf child can get something like this,” she said while prodding Prof. Jansen to speak so that she can hear his voice.

Magteld is working at the university's Centre for Health Systems Research and Development and was deaf since birth. She lost her last bit of hearing due to meningitis last year. Her hearing aids could then not assist her to communicate and a cochlear implant was the only option.

A donation by the Austrian company MedEl made the implant possible. Prof. André Claassen, Head of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at the UFS, says MedEl was also instrumental in the establishment of the implant programme at the Universitas Hospital and sponsored the first five implants at a total cost of R1 million.

Prof. Claassen says 27 implants have already been done here, but it came to an abrupt halt due to a lack of funds. Strong hearing aids are expensive and cochlear implants are even more expensive at R200 000 each. People with hearing disabilities must be identified at an early age as the brain’s ability to learn sound and voice diminishes after the age of three.
 

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