Original Research

Staff perception on including students with physical disabilities at a South African university

Mashudu R. Mphohoni, Martha Geiger, Surona Visagie, Mashudu Manafe
African Journal of Disability | Vol 13 | a1347 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v13i0.1347 | © 2024 Mashudu Ronald Mphohoni, Martha Geiger, Surona Visagie, Mashudu Manafe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 October 2023 | Published: 15 March 2024

About the author(s)

Mashudu R. Mphohoni, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Care Sciences, Sefako Makhatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa
Martha Geiger, Department of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Surona Visagie, Department of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Mashudu Manafe, Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Healthcare Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Background: International and local policy frameworks on disability promote inclusive higher education practices for students with disabilities (SWD). However, the actual application of these frameworks concerning students with physical disabilities (SWPD) in any School of Health Care Sciences (SHCS) is uncertain in South African universities.

Objectives: This study aimed to explore the perceptions of academic and admission staff on the inclusion of SWPD in SHCS at a South African university. The study was carried out at a University of Health Sciences in South Africa.

Method: A qualitative study in which respondents (n = 12) were interviewed in depth about their perceptions on the inclusion of SWPD in the SHCS. Thematic analysis was used in the data assessment.

Results: The results revealed three main themes: policy discourse, environmental effects on inclusion and SWPD enrolment. Respondents reported the lack of a disability inclusion policy and disability unit to support SWD in general. The respondents also noted that there were environmental challenges that could potentially affect the inclusion of SWPD in SHCS study programmes. Respondents also indicated that there was no SWPD enrolment as the university’s current inclusion and/or quota system does not include SWD.

Conclusion: The findings of the study showed a lack of disability inclusion policy, environmental challenges and lack of SWPD enrolment. Based on the study findings, it can be concluded that inclusion of SWPD at this university may be negatively influenced.

Contribution: The study findings contribute to the field of disability and the inclusion of SWPD in higher education institutions (HEIs).


Keywords

students with physical disabilities; inclusive higher education practises; health care sciences; inclusion policy; disability unit; SWPD enrollment

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities

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