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Disability Rights Unit (DRU) We are committed to working towards the goal of creating an accessible and welcoming environment for all students with disabilities.
Disability Rights Unit (DRU) We are committed to working towards the goal of creating an accessible and welcoming environment for all students with disabilities.
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The Disability Rights Unit (DRU) at Wits is a support unit within the Registrar’s Division committed to working toward the goal of creating an equal, accessible and welcoming environment for all students and staff with disabilities.

We endeavour to make the learning and working experience a rewarding and enriching one and pledge to create awareness of the issues and abilities of people with disabilities amongst the Wits community.

About

Goals

  • To help students with disabilities receive reasonable accommodations in academic and non-academic programmes
  • To create awareness of the issues and abilities of people with disabilities amongst the Wits community.
  • To make the learning environment a rewarding and enriching one through the exceptional design of innovative learning and working environments.

Disabilities

The Disability Rights Unit is able to assist students with the following disabilities:

  • Visual
  • Physical
  • Hearing
  • Learning
  • Psychological
  • Speech
  • Chronic illnesses & painful conditions
  • Seizure disorders
  • Students with temporary disabilities (e.g. broken limbs) may request services for the period during which they are disabled
Student Registration

In order to access the DRU's world-class services and support, students with disabilities must first register with the unit.

Registration Process

  1. Complete the online DRU Student Registration Form
  2. Submit documented medical proof of your disability (e.g. letter from a medical practitioner, medical record, etc.) This may be done in person or electronically.

Electronic submission

Digital versions of the proof of disability must be uploaded in the relevant section in the DRU Student Registration Form.

In-person submission

Submit a hard copy to the Disability Rights Unit offices located at:

  • Braamfontein East Campus, Solomon Mahlangu House (Senate House), First Floor, East Wing
  • Wits Education Campus, Administation Block (First Floor)

For any registration enquiries or further assistance, please visit our offices or contact us at: (011) 717-9152/51.

Help for Lecturers

The staff of the Disability Rights Unit will gladly assist lecturers by providing information on specific disabilities and the needs of students who have them. 

  • At your invitation, we can attend staff meetings to discuss academic issues of postsecondary students with disabilities and effective instructional methods for these students.
  • You are also always welcome to visit our offices to experience first-hand the processes involved in supporting students with disabilities or to have your queries answered.

Lecturers Guide to Assisting Student's with Disabilities 

The Disability Rights Unit has also compiled the Guide to Teaching Students with Disabilities to provide helpful tips on teaching students with disabilities.

Bursaries

As one of the leading disability support units at tertiary institutions in South Africa, the Wits Disability Rights Unit is often contacted by various stakeholders who have a keen interest in providing bursaries and other funding opportunities to students with disabilities

To increase the reach of these opportunities they are regularly posted  on our Facebook and Instagram social media pages:

Facebook:    Wits DRU Facebook Page

  • Please note that these opportunities are for Wits students with disabilities only, and all applicants will need to provide valid proof of disability and proof of Wits registration for the current year. 

 

Donors

Over the years the Disability Rights Unit has been wonderfully supported by many outside organisations.

We strive to provide an outstanding support service to all students with disabilities and, with the added support of our donors, we continually look to new emerging technologies and programs to further enrich and strengthen students studying at Wits.

Contribute

If you would like to contribute to the Disability Rights Unit, please contact Dr Anlia Pretorius on:  27(0)11 717 9151 or anlia.pretorius@wits.ac.za 

Documents
Assessments & Reasonable Accommodations

DRU undertakes assessments to determine if the student has a disability hindering educational access.

The Assessment Process

  • This involves interviews with the student and a review of documentation provided by physicians and other clinicians (such as psychologists, audiologists, or optometrists).
  • Once approved, the student can register with DRU and will then be able to utilise the many available resources offered by DRU.

Reasonable Accommodations

Depending on the disability, students may require programme modifications referred to as ‘reasonable accommodations. These could include one or more of the following:

  • A reduced course load
  • Academic adjustments or modifications in instructional methods - (E.g. Electronic and braille textbooks and course material, extra time for tests and examinations) 
Assistive Technology Computer Centres

DRU has specialist computer centres at various locations around campus, all of which are accessible and equipped with state-of-the-art technology and equipment.

Our computer centres are open to all students with disabilities who use assistive technology including:

  • Screen readers and magnifiers
  • Literacy support software
  • Voice recognition
  • Braille displays
  • Loop systems
  • Eye-trackers
  • Various other technologies
Test & Training Centre

DRU boasts a fully accessible Test & Training Centre which serves as: 

  • A test and exam venue with invigilation services for students using assistive technology
  • A fully accessible venue for hosting training workshops, tutorials, etc.
Orientation Programme for New Students

DRU runs an orientation programme early in the year for newly registered students with disabilities.

Students with visual and physical impairments, in particular, are advised to attend this programme as it will assist them with: 

  • Physical orientation
  • IT training
  • Mobility training
  • Other essential skills
Physical Access

DRU works tirelessly to make all campuses fully accessible for all students.

Although not all buildings may be fully accessible (due to certain restrictions such as heritage status, etc.) the DRU is instrumental in organising structural or organisational adjustments to enable students with disabilities to attend their classes or, if required, find alternative ways of making the curriculum accessible.

Applicants are encouraged to visit the University at an early stage in their application in order to assess the suitability and accessibility of departments, lecture venues and living accommodations, and to identify the level of support and facilities available. If a student's requirements are known well in advance, the University will try its best to make the necessary adaptations for the student.

Other Services for Students with Disabilities
  • Campus Health and Wellness Centre – an on-site medical facility providing students with well-being and health-related services. All applications for extra-time are made at this unit
  • Counselling and Careers Development Unit – providing a vast array of services related to personal and career development, such as, career counselling and assessments, personal therapy, graduate recruitment programmes and workplace skills. Students are advised to undergo career assessments/counselling before making a career decision
  • Sports Administration - students with disabilities are encouraged to participate in sports to further enrich their university experience
  • Financial Aid Office - assists students with all their funding matters, such as application for financial aid
  • Libraries – libraries have specific sections equipped with computers with assistive technology allowing easy access to the numerous media and catalogues for students with disabilities
Services for Staff with Disabilities

DRU’s Academic and Facilities Access Coordinator will assist staff with disabilities with requests for reasonable accommodations.

All requests are subject to a review in order to determine the nature and extent of the request, the financial implications of the request, as well as the availability of existing resources.

A final decision will be made after consultations with key stakeholders and in accordance with the relevant Wits policies and guidelines.

Please refer to the Documents section above for the University's policy for staff with disabilities, as well as for the DRU Disclosure of Disabilities / Request for Reasonable Accommodation Form.

For more information please contact Subhashini Ellan, Email: subhashini.ellan@wits.ac.za / Tel: 011 717 9161

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