Milestones & achievements


UCT opens eyes with blind soccer tournament

In the spirit of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Disability Service hosted a morning of blind soccer, aka futsal, on 1 May. The event was organised to champion disability sport and to highlight the role that it plays in the lives of people with disabilities at UCT.

For this occasion, Disability Services teamed up with Sport & Recreation, the Students' Representative Council and the League of Friends of the Blind (LoFoB), a Cape Town-based community organisation. In addition, the Students' Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO) and Graça Machel Hall fielded teams on the day.

The event also allowed a few UCT students to get a sense of what it means to be blind, donning sleeping masks to level the playing field, as it were. The game, normally played indoors, was even trickier as players struggled to hear the ball - fitted with a bell - on the soft Kopano turf on Lower Campus.

Blind soccer Blind soccer

Blind soccer

Blind soccer

Belfast sojourn for authors of disability papers

 Emma McKinney and her husband, UCT alumnus Vic
Postgraduate student Emma McKinney and her husband, UCT alumnus Vic, presented papers at the Inclusive and Supportive Education Congress at Queens University, Belfast

Postgraduate student Emma McKinney and her husband, UCT alumnus Vic, recently presented papers at the Inclusive and Supportive Education Congress at Queens University, Belfast. The theme of the conference was promoting diversity and inclusive practice.

Emma submitted a paper reflecting on her personal experiences of educating people with disabilities in South Africa. Vic submitted a paper on challenges South African children with intellectual disabilities face when moving from primary to high school.

Vic, who has an MPhil in Disability Studies from UCT, was also interviewed by the Belfast Telegraph who wrote a three-page article about his life and studies as a quadriplegic, a result of injuries sustained in a freak road accident that killed his father, Irish national footballer Vic McKinney senior.

Blindness workshop teaches echo navigation

World Access for the Blind president Daniel Kish visited UCT to host a workshop for blind children (some as young as 10 years old), blind adults, mobility instructors and social workers.

Kish became something of a celebrity in his field when he appeared on the Discovery Channel explaining his technique for enabling blind people to obtain an optimal amount of information from their environment, so they can move more freely and independently.

He teaches the use of an ultra-light cane combined with what he calls "human echolocation", the ability to use sound reflected from the environment to detect objects. Twenty attendees practised locating obstacles by using various tongue clicks to produce echoes from objects in the environment.

The workshop was presented jointly by UCT's Disability Unit and the St Dunstan's Association for War-Blinded Veterans.

Workshop for blind children Workshop for blind children

Braille a key to survival

Braille workshop
Reinette Popplestone (seated) with (from left) Andre van Deventer, DVC Prof Crain Soudien, Justice Zak Yacoob, and Dr Nomfundo Mali at the Braille Awareness Workshop.

The Braille Awareness Workshop on 6 October comprised talks, discussions, performances and an exhibition, but all carried one message: Braille is central to everything blind people do.

At the event, hosted by UCT's Disability Service in conjunction with the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB), speaker after speaker demonstrated how Braille empowers people with visual disabilities and how the nearly 200-year-old system is their gateway to education, work and recreation.

Reinette Popplestone, manager of the Disability Service, said that the workshop was held because levels of Braille literacy are decreasing, a reliable indicator that education at schools for the blind is deteriorating.