The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has a proud history of ensuring that all learners have fair access to education.
This includes students with disabilities – one reason that the Centre for Student Support Services (CSSS) has acquired a range of equipment and devices which contributes towards our flexible responses to diverse learners.
“It is our focus to equip our living and learning context and the support and development provisions with a range of modalities, so that students with disabilities find easy entry into the UWC environment,”explained CSSS Director, Dr Birgit Schreiber.
The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSwD) at the CSSS is dedicated to promoting equality, opposing unfair discrimination and encouraging the participation of all students in university life. OSwD facilitates access to campus services, resources and academic materials for students with special needs or disabilities.
The purchase of the equipment – including wheelchairs, voice transcription hardware and other useful items, was informed by a tiered approach. “We equip students with devices which support their academic development,” said Dr Schreiber. “We also equip lecturers with tools to improve the flexible provisions within the teaching context, to improve the teaching spaces by ensuring, for instance, that we have large screens and loop systems for hearing aids in the teaching venues, and that Student Development and Support is equipped to offer students with disabilities the range of co-curricular engagements which are so readily used by UWC students.”
The University has doubled the number of students with disabilities over the past four years – there are now 300 students who have self-identified as living and learning with a disability. This staggering increase is evidence of the University's commitment to students with disabilities. Each student is individually assessed, and a programme is designed to foster the development of each student to their potential.
As Dr Schreiber put it: “UWC is keenly aware of the enabling or hindering impact the institutional context may have on disabled students – we are proud that we are fortified in our ability to create accommodations for our students, and we want to explore the conceptual factors that can empower students best.”