Disability Week 2019: Mainstreaming Disability


The theme for this year’s Disability Week is “Mainstreaming Disability”.

Often people with disabilities are consciously or unconsciously shunted out to the margins of our community because they are seen as “special cases” demanding “special treatment”, which inevitably is seen as an onerous burden on time and resources.  This perpetuates the stigma around disability, when in actual fact, “we are all special cases,” as Albert Camus said. Likewise, C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are no ordinary people.” We need to build a community where everyone is welcome to the mainstream, regardless of whether their particular limitations are labelled a “disability” by society at large or not.

This year’s Disability Week seeks to bring matters surrounding disability into the mainstream in various ways.  Our keynote speaker, Chaeli Mycroft, is known as the world’s first “ability activist”, and has won the 2011 International Children’s Peace Prize and 2012 Nobel Peace Laureates’ Medal for Activism, not to mention summiting Kilimanjaro in a wheelchair.  Over the course of the week, we’ll be raising awareness on campus and bringing disability-related talks to residence dining halls and to the Humanities Research Spotlight academic seminar series.

On Casual Day, Friday 6 September, we’ll be bringing local children with disabilities to the mainstream in an exciting fun day, open to all.  So chances are, you won’t be able to miss Disability Week, no matter what kind of “special case” you are!


Monday 2 September:
7:00 – 9:00pm Keynote address: Chaeli Mycroft Eden Grove Blue
Chaeli is an internationally recognized ability activist, having been awarded the Medal for Social Activism from the Nobel Peace Laureates in 2012.  She is currently reading for a PhD in Public Law at UCT. She has climbed Kilimanjaro and completed multiple Comrades Marathons in a wheelchair and Cape Town Cycle Tours in a buggy.  Chaeli believes in living a full and rich life. and that through teamwork you can accomplish anything.  She is an adventurer, a conqueror of limitations and constantly seeks new ways of overcoming perceived barriers and boundaries.
*Snacks will be provided

Tuesday 3 September:
1:00 – 2:00pm Concert in the Dark
Beethoven Room
A unique sensory experience, the Concert in the Dark is an opportunity to find out how people with visual impairments perceive the world.  Over a lunchtime in the Beethoven Room, some talented local artists featured in the Acoustic Cafe gigs in Makhanda will provide amazing sonic entertainment during Disability Week.
5:15 – 6:15pm Humanities Research Spotlight – Ziyanda Febana, Swantje Zschernack, Rachel Baasch and Shabnam Shaik

Eden Grove Blue

This seminar forms part of the PlayDate series, designed to stimulate interdisciplinary cross- pollination of ideas.  Researchers will be sharing their diverse research empowering people with disabilities to join mainstream places and discourses:
– Dr Rachel Baasch (Fine Art): Invisible disabilities: Creative empathy as a teaching aid
– Dr Swantje Zschernack (Human Kinetics and Ergonomics): Design for all or design for the individual?
– Ms Shabnam Shaik and Lebo Kibane (Anthropology): Shifting the lens: Positioning the body at the forefront of impairment studies
– Ms Ziyanda Febana (Political and International Studies): Whose heritage is it anyway?  The symbolic violence of heritage architecture for the disabled
community in South African Higher Education
*Snacks will be provided

Wednesday 4 September:
7:00 – 8:00pm Residence talk: Tamsin Mbatsha (Paralympic horse rider)
Nelson Mandela Hall

Tammy Bouwer: We are never given any more than we can handle
Tamsin Mbatsha Bouwer is a horse-rider with cerebral palsy who has represented South Africa abroad at Paralympic qualifiers.  She will be speaking about how she has overcome the challenges she has faced.  She says: “My life has come with challenges and joy. It has made me realize that no matter what we face, we are never given more than we can handle. The opportunities and blessings I have received cannot be counted. One of my greatest opportunities thus far has been for me to pursue the Paralympics and in the process learn incredible lessons.”

Thursday 5 September:
12:30 – 14:00 Purple Thursday
Venue: The Wall (behind the library)
7:00 – 8:00pm Residence talk: Lebo Kibane & Taryn Benade (Enable)
Allan Webb Hall
Lebo Kibane and Taryn Benade are the present Chair and Vice-Chair of Enable Society. Enable aims to bridge gaps of communication about the dynamics of impairments in higher education. In this talk, they will offer personal perspectives on their impairments and shed light on the harm that the oversimplification of disabilities can have on students. They will outline ideas of understanding and inclusivity of the wide range of disabling conditions, both visible and invisible, as a route forwards.

Friday 6 September: Casual Day
11:00am – 2:00pm Community Engagement Fun Day
With children from Sibanye Day Care Centre / Kuyasa Special School
Steve Biko Lawns / Dining Hall
On Casual Day, children and parents from Sibanye Special Daycare Cenre and Kuyasa Special School will come to RU to enjoy fun activities and learn.  There will be arts and crafts for the kids and a range of expert speakers, including a physiotherapist, speech therapist and psychologist.  Students and staff from RU are welcome to drop by and join the fun too!

7:00 – 8:00pm Residence talk: Tim Stones (Deaf athlete)
Eden Grove Blue
Tim Stones is a deaf person, with a passion for living life to the full. A keen sportsman, he has competed at the Deaf Olympics in athletics, and is involved with the SA Deaf Rugby Association. Tim has vast personal and professional experience with disability issues, and the challenges of mainstreaming disability. His firstborn son is also a person with disability, having survived multiple strokes.  Tim will be sharing his journey, and that of his son. As a person of deep faith, Tim always says life is about choosing to see the positives in every situation – to choose to see the rainbows in the storms of life.

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