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Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Facility for disabled staff and students launched on Cape Town Campus

On 3 September 2009 approximately fifty students, staff members and esteemed guests gathered for the launch of CPUT’s second Disability Unit facility.

The event took place at the Administration building on Cape Town Campus and was co-ordinated by Disability Unit staff members under the direction of Head of the Disability Unit Dr Nina du Toit.

During the formalities the Programme Director, Elisabet Smit, Head of Department: Student Counselling (Cape Town Campus), declared the function open before handing over to Dr Du Toit to formally welcome the guests.

Smit then took guests through the history of the Disability Unit, spanning over fourteen years and shared some important achievements made since its inception.

The audience was then treated to moving performance by members of the CPUT Choir between addresses by two guest speakers; namely Viwe Kwaaiman, a past CPUT student and Sydney Pretorius, a local attorney and disability rights activist.

Both Kwaaiman, who is living with the genetic disorder muscular dystrophy, and Pretorius, who is visually impaired, shared their messages of hope living with disability.

The local SRC President Thato Molaolwa shared a few words of motivation, calling for students to become more aware and involved in issues of disability and the Disability Unit.

Mugendi M’Rithaa rendered a heart-felt vote of thanks before Cape Town-based Disability Unit staff member Delicia de Vos cut the ceremonial ribbon to declare the new facility, fitted with state of the art computers, officially open.

This official launch formed part of Disability Awareness Week, which ran from 31 August to 4 September 2009 with a series of entertaining and informative events across the Bellville and Cape Town campuses.

Some of the activities that took place during the awareness week included motivational talks by guest speakers (current and past students and staff living with disabilities), vibrant ‘drumming’ sessions hosted by local drumming theatre company Drum Café; short plays and poetry renditions by students; and passionate performances by the CPUT Choir.

According to Dr Du Toit, the purpose of the event was to highlight the specific needs, abilities and challenges of persons with disabilities.

“We want to encourage the CPUT community to become more involved in disability issues,” she said.

Since her appointment at the institution just over a year ago, Dr Du Toit has been instrumental in launching the first Disability Unit facility in the IT centre of Bellville campus in October 2008. During this period, she has also appointed an enthusiastic team to assist with the integration, disabled staff and students into the CPUT community.

Some of the other major highlights of the Disability Unit include a well-managed Disability Forum, the plans to conduct an audit on the accessibility of CPUT buildings and the roll-out of the Unit’s own website in the near future.

In the months to come, the Disability Unit intends to run a ‘roadshow’ across the six faculties, to assist in informing the staff and students about the challenges of educating persons with disabilities on campus.

By Thando J. Moiloa

Photographs: (clockwise) Head of the Disability Unit Dr Nina du Toit delivers her welcoming address; Guest Speaker Sydney Pretorius, Disability Unit staff member Delicia de Vos and Dr Nina du Toit demonstrate a Merlon magnifier device; Student Affairs and Services staff members witness the ribbon cutting ceremony; Guest Speaker Viwe Kwaaiman addresses the audience.
















Written by CPUT News

Email: news@cput.ac.za