Disability at UKZN
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has positioned itself to be the University of Choice for students, including students with disabilities. In pursuit of this goal the University has committed itself to provide student support which will be based on the needs of the student.
The Disability Support Unit (DSU) which is located within the Division of Student Services is tasked with the responsibility of operationalising a disability support service that responds to the needs of a diverse cohort of students with disabilities. The DSU located on the Howard College campus supports the Medical School Campus as well. The DSU’s on the Edgewood, Pietermaritzburg and Westville Campuses support the colleges to adequately empower staff and students to navigate the barriers associated with having a disability. In 2016 the DSU supported its largest cohort of students (656) the majority of whom were visually disabled (238). The University in 2016 also admitted its first Deaf student who uses South African Sign Language to access the learning environment.
Our Immediate Challenge
Disabled students automatically qualify for full funding from NSFAS to financially access higher education. However, providing on campus support requires an additional injection of funds to provide learner support such as conversion of learning materials, providing transcription services, revamping and refitting buildings and campus spaces to improve mobility and address other challenges. The increased enrolment of students with diverse disabilities has necessitated the reconfiguration of the campuses to ensure equity of access to learning places and spaces. The following have been identified as critical enablers for the establishment of inclusive learning for students with disabilities across the University: removal of physical barriers; erecting of accessible ramps and routes; furniture and fittings to support students with diverse disabilities; access to assistive technology; accessible ablution facilities and highly visible directional and information signs.
Disabled Student Success
The number of students with disabilities in South African higher education institutions is far below the employment equity target of 2%. However, the numbers are growing as disabled matriculants learn about the enabling environment being provided by Universities. The support that is given to disabled students from access to graduation is key to their success. The Disability Support Unit ensures that our disabled students become successful graduates and productive members of society.
Partnerships and Donor Support
The UKZN Foundation is seeking long-term partners who will enable the continued success of our disabled students. We are also seeking donors to support the short-term annual needs of the Disability Support Unit, which would include consumables, equipment and assistive technology for our students.
Benefits to Donors
UKZN can offer various profile-raising opportunities to donors who substantially invest in this project which includes: co-branding, naming of facilities or parts thereof (based on the prevailing naming policy), media coverage and publicity in reports, website and publications of UKZN. This project is classified as Socio-Economic Development for the purposes of BBBEE scorecard evaluation and is Section 18a tax deductible.