06 March 2006

Many hard at work over the holidays

While it was very pleasing to see the recognition given to the admissions and ISIS Project staff who worked straight through the holidays (MP Vol 25.1), we should point out that "admissions" at UCT involves far more people than just the great staff in central admissions who were named and lauded in the article.

Also putting in long hours while the nation played were staff in the faculties, the two financial aid offices, student fees and housing, IAPO, ICTS, academic administration, and several other offices as well.

During the annual "quiet time" before and after Christmas, it is busier at UCT than most people realise, and quite a large group of staff across campus also deserve our thanks and praise for keeping the ship afloat during the holidays.

Dr Jim McNamara
Deputy Registrar

Disability unit's appeal to hearing disabled

In disability service provision, the old adage about the squeaky wheel getting the grease is as true as in any other field. Resources tend to be directed to where the greatest need is perceived to be, and this perception is often driven by requests/demands for assistance and accommodations.

To that extent, disclosure of disability status and the nature of accommodations required is essential.

The access needs of students and staff with hearing impairments up till now have been significantly underserved.

We are planning to change that, and to start doing so this year. But in order for us to do that, we need people with hearing impairments to identify themselves. We need to know where at this point in time the greatest need is.

We are launching a multi-year programme to equip lecture venues with sophisticated assistive listening devices. At its simplest, the system consists of an FM transmitter broadcasting a powerful signal to a receiver connected to the user's hearing aid.

We would like to identify students who can benefit from this system. This includes students who already are in possession of hearing aids, but also students who, for whatever reason, do not have hearing aids at the moment but would benefit from them.

Part of this initiative will be to help students with hearing impairment to gain access to funding for hearing aids.

We hope to install the first few FM transmission systems early in this year, but it goes without saying that they need to be installed where there is a need, in other words, in lecture venues used by students with hearing impairments.

We need you to identify yourselves to us.

Please contact us urgently with information about your hearing needs at ext 5090 or by e-mail to rpopples@bremner.uct.ac.za.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Reinette Popplestone,
Acting Director of the DSA Disability Service

Koeberg: What's the risk?

Once upon a time, a man bought a bakkie. It was of good quality, and he established a thriving business carrying loads for the local community. As time went by, business increased and the loads became heavier. The bakkie's driver was also good. Even when, with the growing loads, the suspension and transmission started to give trouble and bits fell off, he would de-clutch quickly and turn off the ignition before there was any damage to the engine. The owner couldn't decide whether to buy another bakkie, bigger or perhaps running on a different fuel, or rent one, or even contract the deliveries to a competitor. He received so much conflicting advice. Meanwhile, conditions deteriorated, and customers started to complain that their deliveries were unreliable. Worse still, they couldn't get a clear answer about what the owner was going to do to solve the problems, which left everyone in the dark and searching for someone to blame.

The reactors at Koeberg are not at risk of melt-down. They have been looked after carefully and are disconnected and switched off whenever a generator or the transmission system has problems. The difficulty is that the load has grown and almost any incident on the transmission network brings down the whole power system. With only one unit at Koeberg operating, an incident makes the system unstable. Without any generation at Koeberg, the network cannot deliver the load of the Western Cape in 2006, although the lower loads of 10 years ago could be supplied under most conditions. Any solution will take a while to implement, until which time the obvious problems will continue.

Who is to blame? Owner, driver, advisors, customers? Maybe everyone carries a part of the blame - slow decisions, not warning loudly enough, stimulating growth without making sure that proper provisions are being made, adding your own load? The real issue is, "How is the problem going to be fixed?" The owner and driver are probably working hard to identify a solution. Until then, keep your load as low as possible.

Trevor Gaunt
Electrical Engineering

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