Access denied? The holistic lived experience of disabled students at Stellenbosch University : 1986-2007

Joubert, Karien (2019-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study explores the holistic lived experience of physically disabled students who studied at Stellenbosch University (SU) between 1986, the national year of the disabled and 2007, when the first dedicated disability unit was established at SU. Although this period reflects a generally transitional phase in wider South African history, with an increased emphasis on social equality, the consideration of the position of disabled individuals in this narrative is largely under-represented. The institutional and social elements of university life are explored as both constitute an integrated student life, while the specific position of disabled students is considered from a variety of angles. Official archival material provides insight into institutional responses to the question of disability. Societal narratives concerning disability are explored through an investigation of the disability-related articles which appeared in the Stellenbosch University publications Matieland and Die Matie between 1986 and 2007. Individual elements are also incorporated through a small-scale qualitative study consisting of 11 individual semi-structured interviews with physically disabled SU alumni. A non-linear narrative emerges throughout this period, in the sense that improvements and developments did not follow in any particular chronological order. The reasons for this are varied and cannot be limited to any single element. The institutional environment makes provision for disabled students in various ways, but a gap in the dissemination of information is evident, indicating that students were not always aware of available accommodations and services. Stellenbosch University was revealed to have a particularly long history of accommodating blind and partially sighted students as well as disability sport. A total of 83 articles from Matieland and Die Matie were explored. These also indicate a non-linear portrayal of disability issues and often vacillate between depictions of disabled students as ‘superheroes’ or ‘sub-humans.’ Interview data revealed that disabled individuals were frequently encouraged to pursue a university education, although access to information and the built environment remained an issue. The independent initiative on the part of disabled students and individual involvement of various staff members were key factors in facilitating success in the institutional environment. Disabled students were revealed to have vastly diverse social experiences which were linked to neither type of disability nor period of study. They participated in the social environment through a variety of networks while at university and encountered various public responses to their disability. Ultimately, this study indicates that physically disabled students navigated the university experience at SU between 1986 and 2007 with various levels of institutional and social support.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie ondersoek die holistiese geleefde ervaring van fisiese gestremde studente aan die Universiteit Stellenbosch (US) tussen 1986, wat die nasionale jaar van die gestremde was, en 2007, toe die eerste toegewyde eenheid vir gestremdhede aan die US gestig is. Hierdie tydperk weerspieël ook 'n oorgangsfase in die wyer Suid-Afrikaanse geskiedenis wat normaalweg gepaardgaan met ’n klem op sosiale gelykheid. Die posisie van gestremde individue binne hierdie narratief is egter grootliks afwesig. Die institusionele en sosiale elemente van die universiteitslewe word ondersoek, aangesien albei 'n geïntegreerde studentelewe uitmaak, terwyl die spesifieke posisie van gestremde studente vanuit verskillende oogpunte beskou word. Amptelike argiefmateriaal bied insig in institusionele reaksies op die kwessie van gestremdheid. Samelewings narratiewe rakende gestremdheid word ondersoek deur 'n beskouing van die gestremdheidsverwante artikels wat tussen 1986 en 2007 in die US-publikasies Matieland en Die Matie verskyn het. Individuele elemente word ook bygebring deur 'n kleinskaalse kwalitatiewe studie wat bestaan uit 11 semigestruktureerde onderhoude met fisies gestremde US-alumni. 'n Nie-liniêre narratief is herkenbaar dwarsdeur hierdie tydperk, in die sin dat verbeteringe en ontwikkelings nie in enige spesifieke chronologiese volgorde verloop het nie. Die redes hiervoor is uiteenlopend en kan nie beperk word tot enige enkele element nie. Die institusionele omgewing maak voorsiening vir gestremde studente op verskillende maniere, maar 'n gaping in die verspreiding van inligting is duidelik, wat aandui dat studente nie altyd bewus was van beskikbare akkommodasie en dienste nie. Die Universiteit Stellenbosch is bewys om 'n besonder lang geskiedenis te hê van die akkommodering van blinde en swaksiende studente, sowel as gestremdheids-sport. ʼn Totaal van 83 artikels uit Matieland en Die Matie is ondersoek. Dit dui ook op 'n nie-liniêre uitbeelding van gestremdheidskwessies en wissel dikwels tussen uitbeeldings van gestremde studente as objekte van ‘inspirasie’ of ‘bejammering.’ Onderhoudsdata het aangetoon dat gestremde individue gereeld aangemoedig was om 'n universiteitsopleiding na te streef, alhoewel toegang tot inligting en die fisiese omgewing deurentyd ʼn probleem gebly het. Die onafhanklike inisiatief van gestremde studente en individuele betrokkenheid van verskeie personeellede was belangrike faktore wat sukses in die institusionele omgewing fasiliteer het. Dit het aan die lig gekom dat gestremde studente uiteenlopende sosiale ervarings beleef het wat nie aan die tipe gestremdheid of studieperiode as sodanig gekoppel kan word nie. Hulle het deelgeneem aan die sosiale omgewing op universiteit deur middel van verskeie netwerke en verskeie openbare reaksies op hul gestremdheid ondervind. Uiteindelik dui hierdie studie aan dat fisiese gestremde studente tussen 1986 en 2007 gedurende hul universiteitservaring aan die US met verskillende vlakke van institusionele en sosiale ondersteuning funksioneer het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/106007
This item appears in the following collections: