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How we started

"Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle and a victory." Ghandi

How we started

Before 1994, people with disabilities had little access to higher education and only a small number registered as students at universities and technikons.

After 1994, important legislation and policies followed thatunderlined equity and non-discrimination with respect to people with disabilities in higher education. Among these were the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996), Integrated National Disability Strategy (1997), Education White Paper 3 (1997), Education White Paper 6 (2001), and the National Plan for Higher Education (2001).

At CPUT, a temporary Disability Forum was established during 2007. With the support of  the University and external donors, a budget was drawn up for 2008 and the procurement of hard- and software started.

The following are some of the highlights between 2008-2011:

1 August 2008: Dr Nina du Toit is appointed as Head of the Disability Unit. During the following months, networking takes place with departments at CPUT, other universities, as well as external stakeholders.

24 October 2008: The main Disability Unit has been refurbished and is launched on the Bellville Campus. 

September 2008: An Institutional Disability Advisory Forum is established to support the initiatives of the Disability Unit. 

1 January 2009: Two administrative assistants are appointed  – one on the Bellville campus and the other on the Cape Town campus. Technological support is provided by an IT specialist on a part-time basis. Support services to students with disabilities is

September 2009: The Disability Unit is launched on the Cape Town campus, with  the same support services and assistive technology as on the Bellville campus.

November 2009: Hardware and specialised software programmes are made available to students with disabilities on the satellite campuses, These facilities are located in the respective libraries.

November 2009: A universal access and universal design scoping exercise on some of the buildings on the Bellville, Cape Town, Mowbray and Granger Bay campuses, is initiated by the Disability Unit, with the help of external consultants

March 2011: A part-time Direct Student Support Assistant is appointed to assist and support and  train students and staff on the software and assistive devices. All campuses are visited on a regular basis by the assistant and by the Head of the Unit.

July 2011: In partnership with an external stakeholder, Business for Good, the Unit starts offering a short course on The Recruitment and Retention of Employees with Disabilities.

The establishment of the Disability Unit marks the start of a long-term process of improving the University’s support to students and staff with disabilities, as well as staff working with students with disabilities.