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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

Music lecturer’s innovative app is a first in South Africa
2014-07-24

Dr Frelét de Villiers, lecturer at the Odeion School of Music (OSM) at the University of the Free State (UFS), is in the process of developing an innovative interactive mobile music application – Notes&Fun.

Notes&Fun is being designed to assist aspirant pianists. It will support beginners with notation and rhythmic patterns.

The app will display single notes, phrases or rhythmical patterns on the phone or tablet and then apply the built-in microphone to measure the frequency of the notes played on the piano itself. It will indicate whether you’ve played correctly, or if you have made a mistake, the correct note will be displayed. Notes&Fun consists of multiple levels, each with a practise and test mode that gradually increases in difficulty and complexity. As opposed to existing apps, Notes&Fun is conceptualised with immediate pitch detection and is applied with a real (acoustic) piano.

For the pilot phase of this initiative, the developing company Maxxor in Cape Town will create a demo app which can be downloaded for testing purposes and general feedback. Once the developing company and innovator are satisfied with the first phase, the product will be marketed vigorously on social media. The initial app will be free, but subsequent levels will need to be purchased. The developers will start a Facebook page where users of the app can add their latest scores and compete with other users. Initially the app will only be available on the Google Play Store due to the fact that more people own Android devices than Apple products. Once the product has proven to be financially viable, the developers will adapt it for the Mac App Store as well.

“The beauty of this app is that music has a universal language, so it can be marketed internationally and I am privileged to have the institutional support from the UFS Technology Unit regarding the judicial process and developing process of the product,” Dr De Villiers said.

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