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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

Miss Deaf SA inspires UFS teachers with her life story
2009-11-26

Pictured from the left, are: K. Botshelo, Vickey Fourie (Miss Deaf SA) and A. Morake.

Vicki Fourie, Miss Deaf SA 2009 and Miss Deaf HESC, recently visited the University of the Free State to motivate aspiring Foundation Phase teachers by sharing her life story with them.

When Vicki was two years old, her parents found out that she couldn’t speak. Two possible explanations were that she had had an ear infection or speech problems. They took her to a specialist and after a brain scan they found out that Vicki had 97% hearing loss in both ears.

Hearing aids were required and Vicki’s father, Pastor Gerhard Fourie from the Christian Revival Church (CRC) enrolled her in a kindergarten school for deaf children, Carel Du Toit in Cape Town.

However, even though Carel Du Toit’s slogan is ‘Where Deaf Children Learn to Speak’, it was because of her mother’s efforts that Vicki is able to communicate effectively with hearing people today.

Bonita Fourie would sit with her child every single day and teach her how to pronounce words phonetically and how to read lips. It is because of that that Vicki is not dependent on sign language at all.

When she was seven years old, her parents enrolled her in an English A.C.E. school. Even though Vicki’s home language is Afrikaans, her parents decided to go against the norm by placing her in an English school (most deaf/hard of hearing people cannot learn a second language). Today Vicki is fluent in both languages.

“I used to think that my hearing aids are just a normal thing you put on, like using glasses for reading,” she said. “I still think that way. People always come up to me and say, ‘It’s amazing how easily you adapt to hearing people. You have no stumbling blocks or holdbacks.’

“To me it’s interesting because my reaction is always this: ‘God gave me this situation, and I have made the best of it. I’ve overcome it, and therefore I can go forward in life’. We were born not to survive, but to thrive. I detest the attitude of, ‘I’m a victim, so the world owes me something’. The world owes nobody anything! We can be victorious over our own circumstances. It is possible. My name’s meaning is testifies to this: “Vicki” comes from the word “Victory”. I was meant to be victorious, and not a victim.”

Vicki, who is now 20, has achieved so much in life. She did ballet, hip-hop, modern dancing, drama (she even went to America for her dramatic monologue and poetry recitation), and she has published over 70 magazine articles, nationally and internationally. Her dreams are to write books one day, become a TV presenter, and motivate and inspire people all over South Africa through public speaking.

When one hears this story, one cannot help but be surprised by her success. It makes you realize that anything is possible when you see the potential in a child, and then do everything in your power to develop it and draw it out. When you believe in the child that you are educating, that child will sense it and blossom like a flower.

“Courage isn’t a gift, it is a decision,” Vicki said. “There will always be things that try to hold you back. The key to working with any child is to be patient, patient, and patient! Teachers play a huge role in equipping children for the future. It is a big responsibility, but it can be done.”
 

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