The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has invested R175.6 million in infrastructure to ensure that disabled people have improved access to university facilities.
Some of the upgrades at the country’s 22 included improvements to areas such as lifts and walkways, general accessibility, assistive learning hardware, magnification of printed text, enhancement software, low vision aids, Braille embossers, computers, software, hardware and accessories.
DHET Chief Director of Communications, Mr Madikwe Mabotha said the multi-million rand project follows a strategic decision of three years ago to support all universities with funding to expand facilities and infrastructure for students and staff with disabilities.
Each university is planning to undertake a comprehensive and up-to-date disability audit which would inform campus master planning strategies.
The University of South Africa (UNISA) received the largest investment allocation estimated at R39 million. This was used towards restoring computer laboratories for students with disabilities and upgrading the institution’s Disability Study and Diagnosis Unit.
“The emphasis was to ensure uninhibited and open access to all facilities for students and staff with disabilities that’s not only limited to low lying facilities on the ground or first floors,” said Mr Mabotha
While the long-term aim is to provide universal access with a differentiated approach which includes creating barrier-free built environments, both inside buildings and externally in the open space system has been implemented.