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19 March 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Thabo Kessah
Thokozile Thulo
Thokozile Thulo says the UFS has changed its focus in supporting students with disabilities.

The Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) has recently opened a permanent office on the Qwaqwa Campus The centre aims to ensure that the University of the Free State increasingly becomes a universally accessible higher-education institution which embraces students with various disabilities.

Thokozile Thulo, CUADS Assistant Officer at Qwaqwa said: “Our focus has changed from ‘special’ accommodation for individuals to the creation of a learning environment that is welcoming and empowering to all students. Integrated learning and education methodologies and processes are being researched and developed to create more awareness among lecturing staff. This incorporates universal design, faculty instruction and curricula.” 

The CUADS office assists students to gain access to study courses, learning materials, various buildings and residences, computer facilities and specialised exams and tests. For visually-impaired students, study material and textbooks in Braille, audio, e-text or enlarged format are provided. 

The office also supports students with various psychosocial and chronic conditions such as epilepsy and panic disorder, as well as learning difficulties such as dyslexia and hyperactivity. “In addition, we support students with special arrangements such as extra time for tests and exams,” said Thokozile.



News Archive

Early diagnosis of hearing loss is important
2017-09-11

  Description: Magteld small Tags: birth defects, hearing loss, Dr Magteld Smith, Department of Otorhinolaryngology

Dr Magteld Smith, lecturer in the
Department of Otorhinolaryngology
at the University of the Free State (UFS)
Photo: Supplied


One of the most common, misunderstood and neglected birth defects in developing countries is hearing loss, which can most severely impair and have a dramatic impact of the quality of life the of the person with hearing loss. 

This is according to Dr Magteld Smith, lecturer in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at the University of the Free State (UFS). 

“Hearing loss refers to all the different types and levels of hearing loss, from slight to profound hearing loss,” she said. 

Derived from a number of retrospective studies in South Africa, it was found 17 people a day are born with hearing loss. More than 95% of those children are born to hearing parents. This estimate excludes children and adults who lost their hearing after birth. 

According to Dr Smith, hearing loss strikes at the very essence of being human, because it hinders communication with others. To enable people to communicate with those with hearing loss, the university’s Department of South African Sign Language teaches students sign language. This year, the department enrolled 230 students. A number of these students are from the Faculty of Education. These students could from 2017 for the first time choose sign language as a subject.

“Studies have shown that important language skills are learned before the age of three because hearing and learning language are closely tied together. Brain development of the auditory pathways and language cortex is occurring in young children as they respond to auditory and visual language. In families that are part of deaf culture, these parents automatically sign from day one, so the baby is learning visual (sign) language, and the appropriate brain development is occurring.

Beskrywing: Doof readmore Sleutelwoorde: geboorte-afwykings, gehoorverlies, dr Magteld Smith, Departement Otorinolaringologie

About 230 students are enrolled for the subject, South African 
Sign Language, at the UFS. As an assignment some of the students 
were asked to design posters to create deaf awareness among 
others on campus. From the left are: Poleliso Mpahane, 
Masajin Koalepe, Ntshitsa Mosase, and Zoleka Ncamane. 
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

“However, if a child has an undiagnosed hearing loss and the parents are unaware, the child will not receive the needed language stimulation — and the hoped-for development won’t take place. It is critical to understand that children with hearing loss have their own talents, different levels of intelligence, socioeconomic circumstances and different abilities, just like hearing children. Therefore, one size does not fit all,” Dr Smith said. 

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