An investigation into the compliance of the University of KwaZulu-Natal with article 9 (accessibility) of the convention on rights of persons with disabilities : a case study of Howard College.
Zitha, Velenkosini Thubelihle.
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The last treaty from the United Nations at the moment is the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This convention is embodied on the social model of disability which is the model that was designed by persons with disabilities themselves. The motive for this model is to fight stigma, stereotypes and people‘s perceptions about disability. One of the fundamental rights set out in CRPD is Article 24 (b) which focuses on the development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential; and (c) which enables persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society (CRPD, 2006). This came after realizing that persons with disabilities globally are denied access to schools and other educational facilities. This article serves as a correction of these past injustices However, these envisaged goals cannot be achieved if the physical environment and the attitudes of society are not responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities. Hence, all too often persons with disabilities are discriminated against or isolated and excluded from society. They are perceived as persons who are incomplete, sick and in need of care. Stereotypes, stigma and apartheid doctrine culminated to black people in South Africa being double marginalized. This resulted to persons with disabilities not enjoying their rights which are entrenched and guaranteed in the constitution. Given the aforementioned, this research dissertation aimed to investigate the compliance of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) with the existing disability legislation that is currently in place in South Africa, following the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities which assesses their access to education and other facilities on an equal basis with others. The qualitative research method was employed whereby 14 students with disabilities participated and one university personnel. A sample of 14 students with different types of disabilities revealed that UKZN is not responsive to the needs of students with disabilities. There are also other factors that were mentioned in line with UKZN‘s unfriendly environment towards students with disabilities. The majority of respondents reported that there are many barriers that hinder them to have access to information, lecture halls/theatres and to actively participate in university activities. At the end of this dissertation recommendations are made as to how the play field can be leveled in order for students with disabilities to have equal access to all university facilities like all other students.