Fofa (Spread your wings) 2015 ‘Words and beyond’

Posted on September 02, 2015

I am. Even though I cannot speak, I am here, I am present, I have a unique personality. I am a person. But I cannot speak. I cannot share myself with you. And so I become invisible…

The experience of invisibility is a common one for people with severe communication difficulties. The annual Fofa project held at the Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (CAAC) aims to help young adults who cannot speak counter this invisibility by making their voices heard through augmentative and alternative ways of communicating. This year, the final year of a 3-year cycle, five young adults from four provinces will return to participate in the project. With the help of the English Department at UP as well as the Faculty of the Arts: Department of Visual Communication: Photography at Tshwane University of Technology, they will explore alternative and creative ways of expressing themselves and who they are through writing, poetry and photography. They will also use these media as advocacy tools – changing negative perceptions about people with disabilities as they are able to claim personhood through self-expression.

They will be mentored by three young adults with severe communication disabilities who have already graduated from the project. Together with additional contributions from other users of AAC, their creative works are planned to be published in a coffee table book that will showcase the talents of people who, despite not being able to speak, can share who they are through various media.

The Fofa project is the first of its kind in Africa. Begun in September 2005, it is a communication training and empowerment programme for youth with severe disabilities. After the training week at the University of Pretoria, participants are supported by their personal assistants, who attend the training with them, to put their newly acquired insights, knowledge and skills into practice.

On Friday, 11 September 2015, participants will share their creative works with an open audience. Please join us and be inspired by young people who are finding their voice through various media. The event will be held in the Foyer of the Conference Centre on the Hatfield Campus of the University of Pretoria from 09:30–11:30. Light snacks will be provided afterwards.

RSVP to [email protected], or call Liza on 012 420 2001.

Please see attachment below for official invitation.

We are very grateful to our sponsors, Momentum, whose generous support has made it possible for us to present the project again this year.


- Author Kerstin Tonsing


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