Resources search

Exploring structural violence in the context of disability and poverty in Zimbabwe

MUDEREDZI, Jennifer T.
EIDE, Arne H.

Expand view

Background: While it is widely assumed that disability, poverty and health are closely linked, research falls short of fully understanding the link. One approach to analysing the links between disability and poverty is through the concept of structural violence, referring to social structures that contribute to the impoverishment of individuals or communities. These structures can be political, ecological, legal and economic, among others.

Objective: To explore structural violence and how it affects families of children with cerebral palsy among the Tonga ethnic group living in poor rural communities of Binga in Zimbabwe.

Method: This is a longitudinal, qualitative and ethnographic study. Data were collected over a period of eight years from 2005 to 2013. Data collection techniques were in-depth interviews, participant observation and focus group discussions. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 53 informants.

Results: Structural violence was noted through four themes: internal displacement and development, food and politics, water and sanitation, and social services. Poverty was noted in the form of unemployment, lack of education, healthcare, food and shelter. The concept of structural violence inflicted social suffering on the informants. Politics played a major role in activities such as food withdrawal, lack of water, development and allocation of local resources to ‘the people of the city’, leaving the informants struggling with care.


Conclusion: Political and economic forces have structured risks and created a situation of extreme human suffering. The capabilities approach brings out the challenges associated with cerebral palsy in the context of development challenges.

Exploration of the academic lives of students with disabilities at South African universities: Lecturers’ perspectives

WALKER, Melanie

Expand view

Background: A decade has passed since South Africa signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a human rights treaty that protects the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. However, not much have changed for students with disabilities.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore lecturers’ experiences with, and perspectives on, disability as well as with students with disabilities. It was hoped that this would contribute to the ongoing policy debates about diversity, inclusion and support for students with disabilities at universities.

Methods: In an effort to understand the lives of students with disabilities better, a study which included students with disabilities, lecturers and disability supporting staff was conducted at two South African universities – University of the Free State and University of Venda. The paper takes a snapshot view of four lecturers and their perceptions of the lives of students with disabilities at their respective universities.

Results and Conclusion: Although most disability literature report students with disabilities blaming lecturers for their failure to advance their needs, this paper highlights that the education system needs to be supportive to lecturers for the inclusive agenda to be realised. An argument is made for a more comprehensive approach towards a national disability policy in higher education involving many stakeholders. Without a broader understanding of disability, it will be difficult to engage with the complex ways in which inequalities emerge and are sustained.

Community stakeholders’ perspectives on the role of occupational therapy in primary healthcare: Implications for practice

NAIDOO, Deshini
Van WYK, Jacqueline

Expand view

Background: Primary healthcare (PHC) is central to increased access and transformation in South African healthcare. There is limited literature about services required by occupational therapists in PHC. Despite policy being in place, the implementation of services at grassroots level does not always occur adequately.


Objectives: This study aimed at gaining an understanding of the challenges of being disabled and the services required by occupational therapists (OTs) in rural communities in order to better inform the occupational therapy (OT) training curriculum. 


Method: An exploratory, descriptive qualitative design was implemented using purposive sampling to recruit 23 community healthcare workers from the uGu district. Snowball sampling was used to recruit 37 members of the uGu community, which included people with disability (PWD) and caregivers of PWDs. Audio-recorded focus groups and semi-structured interviews were used to collect data, which were thematically analysed. Ethical approval was obtained from the Biomedical and Research Ethics Committee of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (BE248/14).

Results: Two main themes emerged namely: firstly, the challenges faced by the disabled community and secondly appropriate opportunities for intervention in PHC. A snapshot of the social and physical inaccessibility challenges experienced by the community was created. Challenges included physical and sexual abuse, discrimination and marginalisation. Community-based rehabilitation and ideas for health promotion and prevention were identified as possible strategies for OT intervention.
Conclusion: The understanding of the intervention required by OT in PHC was enhanced through obtaining the views of various stakeholders’ on the role. This study highlighted the gaps in community-based services that OTs should offer in this context.

Disability inclusion in higher education in Uganda: Status and strategies

ERON, Lawrence

Expand view

Background: Uganda has embraced inclusive education and evidently committed itself to bringing about disability inclusion at every level of education. Both legal and non-legal frameworks have been adopted and arguably are in line with the intent of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on education. The CRPD, in Article 24, requires states to attain a right to education for persons with disabilities without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunities at all levels of education.

Objectives: Despite Uganda’s robust disability legal and policy framework on education, there is evidence of exclusion and discrimination of students with disabilities in the higher education institutions. The main objective of this article is to explore the status of disability inclusion in higher education and strategies for its realisation, using evidence from Emong’s study, workshop proceedings where the authors facilitated and additional individual interviews with four students with disabilities by the authors.

Results: The results show that there are discrimination and exclusion tendencies in matters related to admissions, access to lectures, assessment and examinations, access to library services, halls of residence and other disability support services.


Conclusion: The article recommends that institutional policies and guidelines on support services for students with disabilities and special needs in higher education be developed, data on students with disabilities collected to help planning, collaboration between Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPO’s) strengthened to ensure disability inclusion and the establishment of disability support centres.

Childhood disability in Turkana, Kenya: Understanding how carers cope in a complex humanitarian setting

MWENDA, Victoria
KISIA, James
RONO, Hilary
PALMER, Jennifer

Expand view

Background: Although the consequences of disability are magnified in humanitarian contexts, research into the difficulties of caring for children with a disability in such settings has received limited attention.

Methods: Based on in-depth interviews with 31 families, key informants and focus group discussions in Turkana, Kenya, this article explores the lives of families caring for children with a range of impairments (hearing, vision, physical and intellectual) in a complex humanitarian context characterised by drought, flooding, armed conflict, poverty and historical marginalisation.

Results: The challenging environmental and social conditions of Turkana magnified not only the impact of impairment on children, but also the burden of caregiving. The remoteness of Turkana, along with the paucity and fragmentation of health, rehabilitation and social services, posed major challenges and created opportunity costs for families. Disability-related stigma isolated mothers of children with disabilities, especially, increasing their burden of care and further limiting their access to services and humanitarian programmes. In a context where social systems are already stressed, the combination of these factors compounded the vulnerabilities faced by children with disabilities and their families.

Conclusion: The needs of children with disabilities and their carers in Turkana are not being met by either community social support systems or humanitarian aid programmes. There is an urgent need to mainstream disability into Turkana services and programmes.

Communication rehabilitation in sub-Saharan Africa: A workforce profile of speech and language therapists

WYLIE, Karen

Expand view

Background: There is an urgent global need to strengthen rehabilitation services for people with disabilities. In sub-Saharan Africa, rehabilitation services for people with communication disabilities continue to be underdeveloped. A first step in strengthening services for people with a communication disabilities is to understand the composition and conditions of the current workforce.

Objectives: This research describes a sample of the speech and language therapists (SLTs) working in SSA (excluding South Africa). This study explores the characteristics of this workforce, including their demographics, education, experience and geographical stability.

Method: A mixed-methods survey was used to collect data from SLTs within Anglophone countries of SSA. Completed surveys were received from 33 respondents working in 44 jobs across nine countries. Analysis included descriptive and non-parametric inferential statistics. This study reports on a subset of descriptive and quantitative data from the wider survey.

Results: A background profile of SLTs across the region is presented. Results indicated that the workforce of SLTs comprised a mix of local and international SLTs, with university-level education. Local SLTs were educated both within and outside of Africa, with more recent graduates trained in Africa. These data reflected the local emergence of speech and language therapy training in SSA.

Conclusion: This sample comprised a mix of African and international SLTs, with indications of growing localisation of the workforce. Workforce localisation offers potential advantages of linguistic diversity and stability. Challenges including workforce support and developing culturally and contextually relevant SLT practices are discussed.

Students with hearing impairment at a South African university: Self-identity and disclosure

BELL, Diane
CARL, Arend
SWART, Estelle

Expand view

Background: A growing number of students with hearing loss are being granted access to higher education in South Africa due to the adoption of inclusive educational policies. However, available statistics indicate that participation by students with hearing impairments in higher education remains low and research suggests that support provisioning for those who do gain access is inadequate.

Objectives:  This article aims to illustrate that the assumed self-identity of students with hearing impairment influences their choice to disclose their disability. The choice not to disclose their hearing loss prevents them from accessing the necessary reasonable accommodations and this in turn may affect their eventual educational success.

Method: Reported here is a qualitative descriptive case study at a South African university. Purposive sampling methods were employed. Data were gathered from in-depth interviews with seven students with hearing impairment ranging from moderate to profound, using spoken language. Constructivist grounded theory was used as an approach to the process of generating and transforming the data, as well as the construction of theory.

Findings: All the student participants identified as having a hearing rather than a D/deaf identity cultural paradigm and viewed themselves as ‘normal’. Linked to this was their unwillingness to disclose their hearing impairment and thus access support.

Conclusion: It is crucially important for academic, support and administrative staff to be aware of both the assumed ‘hearing’ identity and therefore subsequent non-disclosure practices of students with a hearing impairment using the oral method of communication. Universities need to put measures in place to encourage students to voluntarily disclose their hearing impairment in order to provide more targeted teaching and learning support. This could lead to improved educational outcomes for students.

The validation of an educational database for children with profound intellectual disabilities

CORTEN, Lieselotte
KILIAN, Elizma
JELSMA, Jennifer

Expand view

Background: The Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability took the South African Government to court in 2010 on its failure to implement the right to education for Children with Severe and Profound Intellectual Disability. Subsequently, multidisciplinary teams were appointed by the Western Cape Education Department to deliver services to the Special Care Centres (SCCs). Initially, minimal information was available on this population.

Objectives: The purpose is to document the process of developing and validating a database for the collection of routine data.

Method: A descriptive analytical study design was used. A sample of convenience was drawn from individuals under the age of 18 years, enrolled in SCCs in the Western Cape. The team who entered and analysed the data reached consensus regarding the utility and feasibility of each item.

Results: Data were collected on 134 children. The omission of certain items from the database was identified. Some information was not reliable or readily available. Of the instruments identified to assess function, the classification systems were found to be reliable and useful, as were the performance scales. The WeeFIM, on the other hand, was lengthy and expensive, and was therefore discarded.
Discussion and conclusions: A list of items to be included was identified. Apart from an individual profile, it can be useful for service planning and monitoring, if incorporated into the central information system used to monitor the performance of all children. Without such inclusion, this most vulnerable population, despite court ruling, will not have their right to education adequately addressed.

Childhood disability population-based surveillance: Assessment of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire Third Edition and Washington Group on Disability Statistics/UNICEF module on child functioning in a rural setting in South Africa

VISSER, Marieta
NEL, Mariette

Expand view

Background: Epidemiological information on childhood disability provides the basis for a country to plan, implement and manage the provision of health, educational and social services for these vulnerable children. There is, however, currently no population-based surveillance instrument that is compatible with the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), internationally comparable, methodologically sound and comprehensively researched, to identify children under 5 years of age who are living with disability in South Africa and internationally. We conducted a descriptive pilot study to investigate the sensitivity and specificity of translated versions of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire Third Edition (ASQ-III) and the Washington Group on Disability Statistics/UNICEF module on child functioning (WG/UNICEF module) as parent-reported measures. The aim of our study was to identify early childhood disabilities in children aged 24–48 months in a rural area of South Africa, to determine the appropriateness of these instruments for population-based surveillance in similar contexts internationally.


Methods: This study was conducted in the Xhariep District of the Free State Province in central South Africa, with 50 carers whose children were registered on the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) database as recipients of a grant for one of the following: Care Dependency, Child Support or Foster Care. The researchers, assisted by community healthcare workers and SASSA staff members, conducted structured interviews using forward–backward translated versions of the ASQ-III and the WG/UNICEF module.

Results: Both measurement instruments had a clinically meaningful sensitivity of 60.0%, high specificity of 95.6% for the ASQ-III and 84.4% for the WG/UNICEF module, and the two instruments agreed moderately (Kappa = 0.6).


Conclusion: Since the WG/UNICEF module is quicker to administer, easier to understand and based on the ICF, it can be considered as an appropriate parent-reported measure for large-scale, population-based as well as smaller, community-specific contexts. It is, however, recommended that future research and development continues with the WG/UNICEF module to enhance its conceptual equivalence for larger-scale, population-based studies in South Africa and internationally.

An adult learning perspective on disability and microfinance: The case of Katureebe

RULE, Peter N

Expand view

Background: Despite Uganda’s progress in promoting affirmative action for persons with disabilities and its strategy of using microfinance to fight poverty, access to microfinance services by persons with disabilities is still problematic due to barriers, characterised by discrepancies between policies and practices. Regarding education, the affirmative action in favour of learners with disabilities has not translated into actual learning opportunities due to personal and environmental barriers.

Objectives: The study on which this article is based investigated the non-formal and informal adult learning practices regarding microfinance that persons with disabilities engaged in. This article seeks to illuminate the barriers that a person with a visual impairment encountered while learning about and engaging with microfinance and the strategies that he developed to overcome them.

Methods: This was a case study, framed within the social model of disability and critical research paradigm. Data were collected through in-depth interviews of a person with visual impairment and observations of the environment in which adult learning and engagement with Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations (SACCOs) occurred.

Results: Findings indicate that the person with a visual disability faced barriers to learning about microfinance services. He experienced barriers in an integrated manner and developed strategies to overcome these barriers. The barriers and strategies are theorised using the social model of disability.

Conclusion: The case of a person with visual impairment suggests that persons with disabilities face multiple barriers regarding microfinance, including social, psychological and educational. However, his own agency and attitudes were also of importance as they influenced his learning. Viewing these barriers as blockades can lead to non-participation in learning and engagement with microfinance whereas viewing them as surmountable hurdles can potentially motivate participants to succeed in learning about and engaging with microfinance.

Attitudes of health service providers: the perspective of Persons with Disabilities in the Kumasi Metropolis of Ghana

BADU, Eric
OPOKU, Maxwell P

Expand view

Introduction: Awareness of disability issues has gained considerable interest by advocacy groups in recent years. However, it is uncertain whether attitudes and perceptions of all service providers and society have adjusted accordingly towards the health care of people with disabilities. This study sought to examine the attitudes of health providers from the perspective of people with disabilities in the Kumasi Metropolis.

Methods: A cross-sectional study using semi-structured questionnaires was conducted with people with disabilities (with physical, hearing and visual impairments,) in the Kumasi Metropolis. The study used a multi-stage sampling involving cluster and simple random sampling to select 255 respondents split amongst the following five clusters of communities; Oforikrom, Subin, Asewase, Tafo and Asokwa. Data were analysed using STATA 14 and presented in descriptive and inferential statistics.

Results: The study found that 71% of the respondents faced some form of discrimination including the use of derogatory remarks, frustration and unavailable required services on the basis of their disability, the type of services they need and the location. Women were 3.89 times more likely to face discrimination; Adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 3.89 (95% confidence interval [CI]; 1.41, 10.76), and visually impaired was more likely to be discriminated at the facility compared with physical disability; AOR = 5.05 (95% CI; 1.44, 17.65). However, respondents with some educational qualification and those who stayed with their family members were less likely to face discrimination; AOR = 0.08 (95% CI; 0.01, 0.39).

Conclusion: The study recommends the provision of in-service training for service providers to update their knowledge on disability issues and improve access to services for people with disabilities.

Living with disabled children in Malawi: Challenges and rewards

UMAR, Eric
WAZAKILI, Margaret

Expand view

Background: Rehabilitation personnel need to be sensitive to the cultural aspects that constitute the environment of a disabled child’s family life.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to gain insight on how families experience parenting of disabled children and how the families experience the support provided by the rehabilitation system in Malawi.


Method: An anthropological field study combining interviews and observations was conducted in a rural district of Malawi in 2011. Permission was granted to follow four families, and this study presents the stories of two families, whose children have severe disabilities. We used phenomenological and narrative analyses to make sense of the stories.


Results: The findings indicate that families with disabled children invest time and emphasise care for their disabled children. They feel enriched by their experience despite challenging situations with little support from the rehabilitation services. High standards of care demonstrating positive and moral attitudes have earned these families respect in their communities. Storytelling has created an opportunity for the families to understand and interpret their challenging situation with inherent contextual meaning.


Conclusion: This study shows that families with disabled children draw on cultural and structural strengths that rehabilitation professionals should be aware of in their support to mothers and other caregivers of children with disabilities.

Perceived burden of care and reported coping strategies and needs for family caregivers of people with mental disorders in Zimbabwe

MARIMBE, Bazondlile D
COWAN, Frances
KAJAWU, Lazarus
LUND, Crick

Expand view

Background: Mental health service resources are inadequate in low-income countries, and families are frequently expected to provide care for their relative with a mental disorder. However, research on the consequences of care giving has been limited in low-income countries, including Zimbabwe.

Objective: The study explored the perceived impact of mental illness, reported coping strategies and reported needs of family members of persons diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder or schizophrenia attending a psychiatric hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Methods: A purposive sample of 31 family members participated in in-depth interviews and focus group discussions using standardized study guides. Participants were also screened for Common Mental Disorders (CMD) using the 14-item Shona Symptom questionnaire (SSQ). Qualitative data were analyzed thematically. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 16) was used for quantitative data analysis.

Results: Caregivers experienced physical, psychological, emotional, social and financial burden associated with care giving. They used both emotion-focused and problem-focused coping strategies depending on the ill family members’ behaviours. Seeking spiritual assistance emerged as their most common way of coping. Twenty one (68%) of the caregivers were at risk of CMD and were referred to a psychiatrist for further management. Caregivers required support from health care professionals to help them cope better.

Conclusion: Caregivers carry a substantial and frequently unrecognized burden of caring for a family member with mental disorder. Better support is needed from health professionals and social services to help them cope better. Further research is required to quantitatively measure caregiver burden and evaluate potential interventions in Zimbabwe.

Slipping and holding minds: A psychosocial analysis of maternal subjectivity in relation to childhood disability

Young, Lisa Saville
BERRY, Jessie

Expand view

Background: This paper elucidates a methodological approach to interview text that tries to acknowledge the psychosocial nature of disability and thereby ensuring that empirical work in disability studies complements theoretical arguments already developed.


Objectives: The aim of this study is to outline a psychosocial conceptualisation of maternal subjectivity in relation to childhood disability and to apply this conceptualisation as an analytic tool to segments of an interview with a mother of a child with physical and developmental disabilities.


Method: Drawing on psychoanalysis and attachment literature alongside critical social psychology we take readers through the analysis of an interview extract with a particular mother. Through a fine grained analysis, we demonstrate the value of attending to the affective processes in and around the text rooted in the particular intersubjective exchange (‘here and how’) of the interview and the particular socio-historical context (‘there and then’) in which the mother, child and researcher are located.


Findings: The reading draws attention to discourses that position this particular mother and her children in particular ways while also pointing to investments in these discourses such that these discourses are not purely social but play affective functions.


Conclusion: This paper demonstrates the value of using multiple lenses to read the text, seeking to understand what is going on from within each lens (discursive/social, interpersonal, intrapsychic), while also seeking to disrupt this understanding as we take up the position of a different lens. This approach enables us to hold onto the complexity and locatedness of maternal subjectivity for mothers of children with disabilities.

Enhancing public sectors’ capacity for inclusive economic participation of disabled youth in rural communities

NED, Lieketseng
LORENZO, Theresa

Expand view

Background: The capacity of service providers in the public sector to deliver inclusive services is essential to implement strategies that will allow the full participation of disabled youth in development opportunities in the rural context.


Objective: The article sets to describe the capacity of service providers in facilitating participation of disabled youth in economic development opportunities.


Method: An instrumental, embedded single case study informed the research design. The sample consisted of five disabled youth, four family members as well as six service providers. Data was gathered through in-depth individual interviews and focus group discussions. Data analysis was done inductively and thematically. In the discussion, the interpretation used organisational capacity elements as a framework.


Findings: The theme on service providers indicates their understanding of disability as still a multifaceted and a challenging issue with different orientations to service delivery based on understanding of impairment and disability. There is a dominant focus on impairment and negative attitudes.


Discussion: An asset building approach could facilitate awareness of capacities of disabled youth and thus shift negative attitudes to an enabling attitude. The vague strategies for youth and women that are described as inclusive are a misrepresentation of the reality of experiences of disabled youth.


Conclusion: An appreciative process of facilitating a holistic understanding of the needs of disabled people is needed to assist service providers to reconceptualise disability within an expansive framework.

Early detection of communication delays with the PEDS tools in at-risk South African infants

LINDE, Jeannie van der
HANEKOM, Linique
GLASCOE, Frances P

Expand view

Background: Prevalence of communication delays or disorders is increasing, possibly because of various environmental risk factors. Selection and implementation of effective screening tools are important to detect at-risk infants as early as possible. This study aimed to evaluate the accuracy of the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS), PEDS-Developmental Milestones and PEDS tools to detect communication delays in infants (6–12 months) in a South African primary healthcare context.


Method: A comparative study design evaluated the accuracy of the PEDS tools to detect communication delays, using an internationally accepted diagnostic assessment tool, the Rossetti Infant-Toddler Language Scale (RITLS). A convenience sample of 201 infants was selected at primary healthcare clinics.


Results: Expressive and receptive language sensitivity scores were low across all three screens(ranging between 14% and 44%). The PEDS tools had high sensitivity (71%) and specificity (73%) ratings for the receptive and expressive language and socio-emotional domain in combination.


Conclusion: In the sample population, the PEDS tools did not accurately detect receptive and expressive language delays; however, communication delays in general were identified. Future research determining accuracy of the PEDS, PEDS-Developmental Milestones and PEDS tools for children aged 2–5 years in detecting communication delays should be prioritised.

Graduates’ perceptions of prosthetic and orthotic education and clinical practice in Tanzania and Malawi


Expand view

Background: Maintaining and improving the quality of prosthetics and orthotics education at the Tanzania Training Centre for Orthopaedic Technologists is essential for the provision of appropriate prosthetics and orthotics services in African countries.


Objectives: To describe how Tanzanian and Malawian graduates’ of the Diploma in Orthopaedic Technology perceive their education and how it could be improved or supplemented to facilitate clinical practice of graduates.


Methods: Nineteen graduates from the diploma course in orthopaedic technology were interviewed and phenomenographic analysis was applied to the data.


Results: Seven descriptive categories emerged, namely varied awareness of the profession before starting education, well-equipped teaching facilities, aspects lacking in the learning context, need for changes in the curriculum, enabling people to walk is motivating, obstacles in working conditions and the need for continuous professional development. All participants perceived possible improvements to the content and learning environment.


Conclusions: Prosthetic and orthotic education can be better provided by modifying the content of the diploma programme by dedicating more time to the clinical management of different patient groups and applied biomechanics as well as reducing the programme content focusing on technical aspects of prosthetic and orthotic practice. Graduates were not prepared for the rural working conditions and the graduates desired continued training.

Impact of structured wheelchair services on satisfaction and function of wheelchair users in Zimbabwe

NHUNZV, Clement
TIGERE, Deborah

Expand view

Background: Providing wheelchairs without comprehensive support services might be detrimental to user satisfaction and function.


Objectives: This paper compares wheelchair user satisfaction and function before and after implementation of comprehensive wheelchair services, based on the World Health Organization guidelines on wheelchair service provision in less resourced settings, in Zimbabwe.


Method: A pre- and post-test study with a qualitative component was done. Quantitative data were collected with the Quebec User Evaluation of Satisfaction with Assistive Technology for adults and children and the ‘Functioning Every day with a Wheelchair Questionnaire’. Data were collected from 55 consecutively sampled wheelchair users, who received a new wheelchair in the study period. Qualitative data were collected through two audio recorded focus groups and two case studies and are presented through narrative examples.


Results: The proportion of adult users who were satisfied significantly increased for all wheelchair and service delivery aspects (p = 0.001 - 0.008), except follow-up (p = 0.128). The same was true for children’s post-test ratings on all variables assessed (p = 0.001 - 0.04), except training in the use of the device (p = 0.052). The biggest improvement in satisfaction figures were for comfort needs (44.3%), indoor mobility (43.2%), outdoor mobility (37.2%), safe and efficient, independent operation (33.5%) and transport (31.4%). The qualitative data illustrated user satisfaction with wheelchair features and services.


Conclusion: The wheelchair service programme resulted in significant positive changes in user satisfaction with the wheelchair, wheelchair services and function. It is recommended that the Zimbabwean government and partner organisations continue to support and develop wheelchair services along these guidelines.

Teaching science and mathematics to students with visual impairments: Reflections of a visually impaired technician

MAGUVHE, Mbulaheni

Expand view

This study reports on factors that limit the participation of blind and partially sighted learners in mathematics and science education. Since the teacher, still remains one of the most crucial factors in any education system, the researcher deemed it important to investigate the role of the teacher as understood by a blind technician in promoting the participation of blind and partially sighted learners in mathematics and science subjects, which few of these learners take beyond primary school. A case study was conducted interrogating a blind technician, who regards himself as an unqualified scientist, in his understanding of various school factors that could entice blind and partially sighted learners to participate in mathematics and science education, and to promote their retention in related professions. The participant thus drew from his own experiences of the school environment and wider concentric social institutions. A semi-structured interview schedule was followed and the responses were recorded by mutual consent. Analysis was conducted based on questions put to the participant. The study revealed that teacher motivation and mentorship in mathematics and science methodologies and the use of tools for learner empowerment are lacking. It further revealed that teachers lack the requisite skills in special education to harness learner potential in mathematics and science. This situation necessitates government action in teacher training and development.

Impact of inaccessible spaces on community participation of people with mobility limitations in Zambia

NITZ, Jennifer C
DE JONGE, Desleigh

Expand view

Background: The study investigated the perspective of people with mobility limitations (PWML) in Zambia, firstly of their accessibility to public buildings and spaces, and secondly of how their capacity to participate in a preferred lifestyle has been affected.


Objectives: Firstly to provide insight into the participation experiences of PWML in the social, cultural, economic, political and civic life areas and the relationship of these with disability in Zambia. Secondly to establish how the Zambian disability context shape the experiences of participation by PWML.


Method: A qualitative design was used to gather data from 75 PWML in five of the nine provinces of Zambia. Focus group discussions and personal interviews were used to examine the accessibility of the built environment and how this impacted on the whole family’s participation experiences. The nominal group technique was utilised to rank inaccessible buildings and facilities which posed barriers to opportunities in life areas and how this interfered with the whole family’s lifestyle.


Results: Inaccessibility of education institutions, workplaces and spaces have contributed to reduced participation with negative implications for personal, family, social and economic aspects of the lives of participants. Government buildings, service buildings, and transportation were universally identified as most important but least accessible.


Conclusion: Zambians with mobility limitations have been disadvantaged in accessing services and facilities provided to the public, depriving them and their dependants of full and equitable life participation because of reduced economic capacity. This study will assist in informing government of the need to improve environmental access to enable equal rights for all citizens.