Twins excited to receive assistive devices
24 March 2023
Twin sisters diagnosed with Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy, a genetic disorder that affects vision, were recipients of portable electronic magnifying devices procured by the Western Cape Education Department.
The twins, who are currently in Grade 11 at Spine Road High School in Mitchell’s Plain, were overjoyed when presented with the specialised tablets in December 2022. These devices can magnify work on the board as well as written and electronic text and images.
For a long while the sisters were unable to fully access learning resources with ease and were sadly limited in realising their full potential. With the help of one of their teachers, Carmen Gordon, a referral was made to the district for additional support. An Educational Psychologist in the Metro South Education District, Zuki Ngqela, in collaboration with the Therapy Coordinator, Warda Conrad, prepared the funding submission for procuring the assistive devices.
The WCED’s Loan Centre fund is managed by the Directorate Inclusive and Specialised Education Support and was created specifically for the purchase of devices that promote and support Inclusion by enabling the accommodation of learners with special needs in mainstream schools. Without these devices, many learners with disabilities would need to access the high levels of support primarily offered by special schools. These special schools are often situated far from the communities in which the learners reside, essentially requiring them to stay within a hostel facility (if available) or travel great distances, with significant financial costs.
Funding for assistive devices is available to learners in mainstream schools following evaluation by the District-based Support Team’s (DBST) Therapy Coordinator who presents submissions to the Provincial Loan Centre Committee. Mainstream schools are therefore encouraged to refer potential learner recipients for DBST support via the Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS) pathway. Disorders affecting hearing, vision, mobility, sensory processing and learning disabilities such as dyslexia etc. are bases for applying for funding.
The principal and teachers at Spine Road High School embrace inclusion and have been supportive of the twins completing their education with them. The twins, their mother and teachers received orientation and training on the devices’ features and usage at the school.