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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

Emily Matabane transforms perceptions of the deaf community
2014-09-22

 

Emily Matabane

September is International Deaf Awareness Month and Emily Matabane – a lecturer at our Department of Sign Language – let us into the world of the deaf. A world she herself lives in.

Through the aid of Tshisikhawe Dzivhani, an interpreter, Matabane shared her experiences with us in a question and answer (Q & A) session.

Q: Tell us about your career as a lecturer in Sign Language.

A: I started working at the university as a Sign Language lecturer in 2000. I have a lot of deaf and hard of hearing people in my family and I also went to a deaf school. My mother is hard hearing and after graduation I taught her sign language. This made me want to teach other people sign language, who in turn will teach more people as well.

Q: What are common misconceptions about the deaf community?

A: Hearing people will often think you are stupid if you are deaf. But in fact we can still understand people – for instance, if they write down what they want to say when we don’t have an interpreter with us.

People also thought I couldn’t drive or buy a car because I am deaf – while I actually had a valid driver’s license. When I wanted to get a loan at the bank to buy my car, they wanted a doctor’s letter to prove that I’m allowed to drive, even though I have a license. Eventually, I did get the loan and I did buy the car!

Q: How can hearing people support the deaf community?

A: People can learn sign language. That is what I wanted to achieve when coming to university as a Sign Language lecturer. Hearing students who will become psychologists, teachers and social workers will be able to work with deaf people and perhaps teach others sign language too. Deaf people simply need more people to socialise with them.

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