The Department of Facilities Management at the University of Pretoria (UP) has built a dedicated rest area for guide dogs in the garden outside the Disability Unit's offices on the Hatfield Campus. This is just the latest example of the University's comprehensive accommodation of persons living with disabilities. The small enclosed garden is set up in such a way that it is easily accessible to visually impaired students who make use of these special service dogs and provides a place for the dogs to relieve themselves and rest.
The rest area was built in December 2015 following an inclusive planning and design process to ensure that the area is environmentally friendly and fits in with the design of the Old Chemistry Building where the Disability Unit's offices are located. A visually impaired UP student and a representative from the South African Guide Dog Association took part in the design process and the practical testing of the rest area.
'The rest area is designed in a simple, natural and practical way, from the pavement and gate to the grass, plants and shade section,' says Mr Johan Britz, a manager in the Department of Facilities Management. It provides for the needs of both visually impaired students and their guide dogs and has a tap for providing the dogs with fresh drinking water. Mr Britz continues: 'The dogs can be let loose and remain safe in the rest area as the gate closes automatically.' The long-term aim is for the rest area to be completely natural, with shrubs used as the main boundary to keep the dogs contained.
The Disability Unit is the first of its kind at a South African University.