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Disabled Students to Apply for Extra Time During Exams.

WSU Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof Rob Midgley has committed to leading the charge in ensuring that the institution fulfils its duty in offering inclusive and equitable education for students living with disabilities.

Speaking during the first ever official meeting of the University’s Institutional Disability Committee at the Buffalo City Campus’s Potsdam Site recently, Prof Midgley said the institution needs to closely re-examine its posture and attitude with regards to the examination of disabled students.

He made the assertion following great concerns raised by numerous students living with disabilities at the meeting.

“This meeting is vital as it allows management to realize and to hear from people living with disabilities as to what their needs are and what issues they’re confronted with and how the institution, in turn, can try to address these upheavals.”

“We can glibly talk about constitutional rights and obligations but it’s only when you realize how small things affect people that make you realise that you have to manage a little bit differently so as to implement that constitutional obligation,” said Prof Midgley.

Fourth-year education student Sandile Gqomo, who was born with a defection in his left hand, said the institution of the disability policy was an important step in the right direction for people living with disabilities at the university.

He chronicled the great strifes he’s had to face since his arrival at the University in 2016.

“When I arrived at WSU four years ago I had great challenges – I could not get proper funding from NSFAS that spoke to my needs. Because of the defection in my left hand, I couldn’t do simple things like laundry and cooking and had to pay an aid out of my own pocket to assist me,” said Gqomo.

He said as a matter of urgency, the University needed to improve the administration and physical infrastructure and accommodation of students living with disabilities so as to provide a conducive environment.

Gqomo also highlighted problems that disabled students face with regards to transport, which is inadequate and not fit for purpose when it comes to catering for the needs of the disabled.

“The issue of care assistance for disabled students who’re unable to fully care of themselves must also be addressed as a matter of great urgency. The University’s student affairs division must be beefed up and have a capacity within its ranks that looks specifically at issues of disability,” he said.

Midgley said the immediate challenge that he would personally see to would be the establishment of an examination committee that will look at ensuring an inclusive and equitable examination process for disabled students.