How to Support People with Down Syndrome in the Workplace

Written by CWD Editor
Last updated Friday April 8 2022

There are many different challenges that employees working with down syndrome can face at work. As an employer, it is important that you give down syndrome employees the same opportunities as others and provide the support they need. This article will discuss some of the ways that employers can support their employees with down syndrome and provide tips some tips on how to do so effectively.

People who have down syndrome want to work for the same reasons as any other jobseeker, they want to earn their own money, learn new skills, feel valued, have the chance to become more independent, meet new people and contribute to society. However, people with down syndrome often face difficulties with prejudice, stereotypes, low expectations, lack of opportunities and general negativity towards them. However, with the right support from their employer, down syndrome employees can be productive and successful members of a team.

Steps You Can Take to Support Employees with Down Syndrome

Provide Induction and Training

Induction and training are essential to provide your employees with appropriate time to learn about your policies and procedures and introduce them to the work environment and colleagues. To make sure you provide adequate induction and training you could:

  • Allocating a mentor to the employee so they know whom they need to speak to if they have any questions.
  • Providing the employee with an induction booklet to keep the information together and periodically review it if needed.
  • Providing the employee with photographs of each staff member with details about their names, roles and where to find them as a reference.
  • Creating a visual and written daily schedule, including break and lunchtimes, and breaking down daily tasks.
  • After explaining each task, you can check if they understood before moving on to the next one. You can use the “See one, Do one, Teach one” technique to help the mentor verify whether the employee understands the tasks.
  • Allow for a more extended period for the induction to be completed, in case you need to review some job aspects with the employee.

Provide Aids and Supportive Equipment

Everybody doing a job for the first time needs support. For people working with Down Syndrome, the level of support required will depend on the individual and should be discussed in the employee’s presence. Here are some valuable tips that can help you assist workers with Down Syndrome:

  • Giving the employee a map or floor plan of the workspace, with photographs and information about where items are stored and where each staff member can be found.
  • Visual aids to assist in tasks, such as describing how to use a photocopier or scanner.
  • Working in partnership with somebody who knows the employee to learn more about aids and supportive equipment they already use at home are proven to be effective.
  • Providing assisting devices, such as electronic pencil sharpeners or staplers, non-skid material, etc.

Make Information Understandable and Accessible

Learning a new role can be difficult for everyone, including people with down syndrome. To make sure your down syndrome employees are comfortable and confident you should make sure that all information you provide them with is clear, do this you can:

  • Break down jobs into smaller, manageable tasks to go through in a sequence.
  • Explain tasks in different ways if the employee does not understand at first.
  • Demonstrate the task to the employee so they can practically see how to carry it out.
  • Use adequate language and common synonyms for more complex words and concepts.
  • Use large text and easy-to-read font when writing instructions.
  • Assign the employee routinely and regular jobs.
  • Be prepared to allow for extra time for some tasks to be achieved.

At Careers with Disabilities, we are committed to providing employers and disabled job seekers with the support they need to thrive in their lives.

For more information about Down Syndrome, you can visit our website’s dedicated disability advice page, the Government or the NHS websites. If you are an employer, you can find out what services we can offer you here, including how to advertise your opportunities on our specialist disabled jobs board. Feel free to contact us with any queries, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to keep updated with the latest news and information.

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Last Updated: Friday April 8 2022

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