SAOUG celebrated the month of love at the beautiful Big Red Barn by listening to an enlightening talk by Dr. Anlia Pretorius and Tanya Healey entitled “Opening the doors of learning for students with disabilities”
According to the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, disability is “An evolving concept and disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers”. It recognizes persons with disabilities as those persons who have “long-term physical, mental, intellectual, neurological, psycho-social or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”. Disability is an evolving concept. Impairment is the medical aspect of the problem, disability refers to the attitudinal aspects. Institutions in the PSET system throughout South Africa have made progress in addressing the right for reasonable accommodation for and services to persons with disabilities but much still needs to be done.
They offered a comprehensive list of things institutions and individuals can do to make their environment friendly (full presentation can be accessed here). The take away message was to treat all people with dignity and respect. All institutions should have a disability policy to protect services to students and a unit to create disability training awareness and advocacy. Working together can help all to break barriers and change perceptions of others.