Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Professor Eudine Barriteau has assured that the tertiary institution is an all-inclusive community which welcomes students with disabilities.
She gave that assurance last Friday while delivering the feature address at the launch of the UWI Cave Hill Association for Persons with Disabilities (UWICAPD).
The principal told her audience that the campus is attempting to address the needs of persons with dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), persons who are bipolar, and others who experience other learning challenges.
Lauding the launch of the new organization, Barriteau said: “With the launch of our new organization today, the Cave Hill Campus is publicly stating that it is a disability-friendly university. The Cave Hill campus promotes an inclusive learning environment. We embrace all voices and perspectives. We safeguard diversity and sexual orientation. We promote equity in education and discriminate against no one.”
In January 2014, the campus’ academic board adopted a Student Disability Policy which states that the Cave Hill Campus is committed to the non-discriminatory treatment of all students, including those with disabilities.
“In a region which has limited natural resources, and where our most significant resource is our human resource, I believe the university has a responsibility to ensure that each of our citizens is given an opportunity to develop to their maximum potential,” she said.
The principal recalled that President of the Senate Kerry-Ann Ifill became the first visually impaired person to graduate from the Cave Hill Campus.
Showering praise on the achievements of Senator Ifill, Barriteau said: “We are all very familiar with the outstanding work and public service which she continues to render as a beacon for the visually impaired community, and all women in general. We were particularly proud that she delivered a 50th anniversary lecture in the series we mounted to celebrate Barbados’ Golden Jubilee.”
Barriteau commended the Office of Student Services for its efforts in coordinating services for students with disabilities, through collaboration with several campus stakeholders.
According to her, these stakeholders have all contributed in large measure to the campus being able to provide suitable services and accommodation to students with visual impairment, hearing impairment, paraplegia and dyslexia, among other disabilities.
The Pro Vice Chancellor told her audience that the Office of Student Services has also sponsored various staff and student disability awareness and sensitization campaigns, including lectures, panel discussions, workshops and student poster competitions.
Braille classes are also offered though the office’s Vision and Fortitude programme which gives students an opportunity to enter the world of the visually impaired through simulation.
Barriteau also disclosed that the campus is currently exploring offering Caribbean Sign Language as a co-curricular course.
Stressing that Cave Hill is striving to be all-inclusive, the principal said the campus is in the final stages of providing the students with a new gym – fully equipped with showers and changing rooms, and fully accessible to students who are physically challenged.
She said that plans are in place to widen and remodel access to the 3Ws Pavilion, adding that the installation of an elevator is also on the cards.
Stressing that the campus will not rest on its laurels, the Cave Hill principal added: “We will continue to closely monitor our learning and leisure environment to ensure that over time all impediments to differently able students’ progress are removed. An inclusive academic community helps to build an enlightened and progressive society for all.”