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Wednesday, 03 March 2010

Disability Unit establishes task team to improve campus accessibility

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Accessibility at CPUT will come under the spotlight, with the establishment of the Universal Access Task Team.

The team, which is currently being put together by Dr Nina du Toit, Head of the Disability Unit, will be tasked with improving and monitoring accessibility at CPUT campuses.

The move to create the task team comes after the Disability Unit roped in the help of outside consultants to conduct an accessibility audit of the CPUT campuses.

The audit, which took place in November and December 2009, examined facilities at CPUT campuses in a bid to determine what infrastructure changes need to take place to ensure that all students, including students and staff members with disabilities have access to all facilities.

The consultants looked at various aspects, including accessibility of buildings, restroom facilities, parking and signage.

“We are still waiting for the consultants’ final report. This will assist us in mapping out the way forward,” said Dr du Toit.

The task team, which will include representatives from several CPUT departments, will also be required to raise awareness on Universal accessibility issues amongst staff members and students.

Dr du Toit stressed the importance of buy-in of the entire CPUT community into the new Universal Access paradigm.

She said ensuring accessibility at all campuses is a huge task and one that cannot be completed within a short period.

In the meantime, the Disability Unit is extending its support services to students with disabilities at all campuses.

There are units at Bellville and Cape Town campuses and support services are provided at all the satellite campuses.

The units feature state of the art assistive technology equipment, which is designed to meet the needs of students with disabilities.

This ranges from a Braille printer to computers with large text and software programmes.

The support services on the satellite campuses are housed in the libraries.

According to Dr du Toit there has been an increase in the number of students that make use of their facilities and services.

By Candes Keating

Photograph: Architect Adriana Hornea of the Facilities Management Department, Universal Design expert Mugendi M’Rithaa of the Department of Industrial Design and Head of the Disability Unit Dr Nina du Toit are among the foundation members of the Universal Access Task Team. Other members include Dean of Students Cora Njoli-Motale and Director of Fundani CHED Prof Terence Volbrecht.

Written by CPUT News

Email: news@cput.ac.za