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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. 



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Universal Access and Universal Design approach align UFS with international standards
2015-08-11

Making mobility for students with disabilities easier, First Car Rental representatives hand over the brand new Toyota Quantum to Hestie Veitch, Head of CUADS.
Photo: Valentino Ndaba

The Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) launched successfully on 24 July 2015. The objective was “to make more people on campus and from the greater UFS community aware of the services that we provide, and to spread the word about Universal Access.”

“Since the center was founded in 2001, structural and systematic developments have occurred in order to create a welcoming and accessible learning environment that grants students opportunities to be successful in their academic endeavours. Thus, the Unit for Students with Disabilities (USD) has evolved into the CUADS in support of the social model of disability,” said Hetsie Veitch, former Head of the Centre.

Implementing the Universal Access and Universal Design approach has aligned the University of the Free State (UFS) with international standards.

Mingling with the experts

Vendors from across the country displayed their products, and offered demonstrations of functional gadgets and essentials at the event.

Marita Erlank from Sensory Solutions demonstrated how to operate the specialised scanner, which converts printed material to enlarged electronic text and audio, using the Open Book software.

Representing the university’s Sign Language Student Association were Carla Bester, Elrie de Toit and Tebogo Chabangu. To support Deaf Awareness Month (September), theyplan to dedicate a weekto facilitating free workshops for students not registered for the module.

David Greenland and his teamwere also present as part of a Wheelchair Appreciation Month campaign. On 1 September2015,the group of students will raise awareness of the daily challenges faced by mobility-impaired persons by spending the day in wheelchairs.

The day ended on a festive note, by courtesy of the First Car Hire Rental Company. A brand-new Toyota Quantum was handed over as a long-term rental, enabling students of the university to travel between campuses free of charge.

CUADS aims to continue transforming the UFS into a universally-accessible environment by collaborating with internal and external stakeholders. The launch marks a significant step towards Universal Access and Design.

 

 

 

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