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Services

DRU enjoys the services of the following staff members:

  • Head - manages the department and is actively involved in many disability groups/forums in South Africa
  • Adaptive Technologist - provides specialised technological support and training to students using assistive technology as their medium of study and also maintains the DRU computer network, computer centres and other specialised equipment
  • Neurodiversity and Mental Health Coordinator - assists students with learning impairments by developing various study and time management programs to assist students academically
  • Academic & Facilities Access Coordinator - provides specialised support to students and staff with disabilities at Wits who encounter barriers to academic and/or physical access. 
  • South African Sign Language Interpreter - interprets for Deaf students during lectures
  • Test & Exams Officer - oversees all matters related to tests and exams
  • Wits Education Campus (WEC) Administrative Officer - oversees matters at Wits' Parktown campuses (WEC, Medical School and Wits Business School)
  • Editors - responsible for conversion of course material into an accessible format

 

Services for Students with Disabilities

 

Assessing of Students

DRU will undertake a comprehensive assessment to determine whether the student has a disability that hinders educational access. The assessment and evaluation process involves interviews with the student as well as 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.

Depending on the disability, students may require programme modifications (for example, a reduced course load), auxiliary services (such as notetakers or laboratory assistants) or academic adjustments or modifications in instructional methods (for example, electronic and/or braille textbooks and course material or extra time for tests and examinations). In combination, programme modifications, academic adjustments and any auxiliary services are often referred to as "reasonable accommodations" in the University and common parlance.

Accommodations are not intended to give students with disabilities an unfair advantage, but are only there to remove any barriers that prevent students with disabilities from learning and demonstrating what they have learned. The DRU requests only those accommodations for which a student has a disability-related academic need. Accommodations vary from student to student; people with different disabilities may have different academic problems, and sometimes two people with the same disability will be affected in diverse ways.

Assistive Technology Computer Centres

DRU is proud to have specialist computer centres at various locations around campus, all of which are accessible and equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and software. Our computer centres are open to all students with disabilities who use assistive technology (e.g. screen readers and magnifiers, literacy support software, voice recognition, Braille displays, loop systems, eye-trackers and various other devices).

Test & Training Centre

DRU boasts a fully accessible Test & Training Centre which serves dual roles – firstly as a test and exam venue with invigilation services for students using assistive technology; and secondly as 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 and other essential skills necessary to adapt to university life.

Physical Access

The University is spread over a wide area, in numerous buildings of various designs and age, and on separate campuses. We are working 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 Wits Services available to 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
  • Office of Residence Life – offers students with disabilities a range of accommodation options at Wits
  • Student Development and Leadership Unit – focuses on holistic student development
  • Wits Writing Centre - assists students to acquire the appropriate writing skills
  • 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 our Documents and Policies section 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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