What is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is one of the most common forms of cognitive disability. Most people with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes in their cells instead of 46. They have an extra chromosome 21, which is why Down syndrome is also sometimes known as trisomy 21. Despite knowing how Down syndrome occurs, reasons why it happens are still uncertain. Down syndrome occurs at conception, across all ethnic and social groups and to parents of all ages. It cannot be medically treated and it does not go away.
Can someone with Down Syndrome learn and work?
Despite some level of learning difficulty and cognitive disability which varies from person to person, people with Down Syndrome can learn. The process can be facilitated with the use of aids and equipment in conjunction with a range of teaching techniques. As a result, individuals with Down Syndrome can thrive in a wide range of jobs and positions when they have the right support and the skills they need to perform the job.
In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that about 8,000 of the 40,000 people living with Down Syndrome are in employment. According to research, the main challenge they face is getting enough work experience, which is why employers play a considerable role in their lives. For this reason, we have put together some useful tips that will help you employ and work with people who live with Down Syndrome.
As an employer, it is essential to make sure that the candidate understands what the job is and applies correctly. Here is a list of what you can do to facilitate the process:
- Using easy to read English for job ads and application forms.
- Using large print and visible areas on application forms for the candidates to write answers.
- Using visual cues.
- Advertising your vacancies on jobs boards dedicated to support people with disabilities, such as the one on Careers with Disabilities’ website.
- Speaking clearly.
- Using short sentences.
- Asking the question differently if the candidate does not understand the question.
- Avoiding jargon and metaphors.
- Allowing longer time for the interview to take place than you would usually.
- Using a tick box questionnaire to assess skill sets.
- Allowing the candidate to bring a person along as a support.
- Asking questions directly to the candidate, if a support person is present.
At Careers with Disabilities, we are committed to providing employers and jobseekers with the support they need to thrive in their lives. For more information about working with a disability such as Down Syndrome, you can visit our website’s dedicated page, the Government or the NHS websites.