In Canada, about one in every 750 live births is to a baby with Down syndrome, one of the most common congenital anomalies in the world. It occurs when someone is born with an extra chromosome 21.
According to the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS), many people with Down syndrome are unemployed or under-employed – that is, underpaid or not working to their full potential – despite their interest and ability to fulfill a job. There are many reasons for this, some of which the CDSS identifies as being due to barriers to the acquisition of relevant education, career development and training. This gap between interest in a job and having one is meaningful to people with Down syndrome and also to the organizations that could be hiring them, as diversity makes businesses stronger in so many ways.
The following resources can help clients with Down syndrome, and the career practitioners who support them, find and acquire meaningful work in Canada.
As explained by the CDC, “even though people with Down syndrome might act and look similar, each person has different abilities.” The following resources help explain what Down syndrome is and the wide range of abilities and experiences that exist among individuals with Down syndrome.
The Canadian Down Syndrome Society declares on their website that “the best people to answer questions about Down syndrome are people with Down syndrome.” This webpage features a collection of short videos that answer some of the most-searched questions about Down syndrome on Google, such as “What is Down syndrome?” and “Can a person with Down syndrome have a job?”
The Down Syndrome Resource Foundation is dedicated to helping individuals with Down syndrome live their fullest life. On their website, they explain what Down syndrome is. This website also contains articles and resources about living with Down syndrome, physical development, psychological development and social development.
While this factsheet was designed to help teachers who support students with Down syndrome, the information it provides is helpful in demonstrating that Down syndrome affects individuals’ learning abilities and health in different ways. For example, some individuals with Down syndrome may experience medical problems while others may not.
In this article published in 2016, Paul Sawka, the Awareness Leader at the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, shares his experience with finding and fulfilling a job, as well as three challenges people with disabilities face when they are looking for work.
Employment Resources (CDSS) [Workbook and resources]
Put together by the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, this webpage includes a variety of resources that can help people with Down syndrome find meaningful work in their communities. In addition to linking out to helpful resources, the CDSS provides their own supportive materials as well. Their Employment Planning Workbook, for example, was designed to help people with Down syndrome and their families prepare for work at any point in their working journey. The workbook, which contains useful and interactive sections for check-ins and notes, explores:
- What it means to have a job
- Who’s in your network
- What your skills, interests and experiences are
- What kind of work you would like to do
- Steps involved in finding and applying for a job
- Interview tips
The CDSS also offers an Employment Planning Hub designed for people with Down syndrome as well as their family support and employment service providers. The hub guides users step-by-step through the process of preparing for a new job.
Using data from qualitative and quantitative surveys of leading organizations that have hired people with Down syndrome, this report explores the value that people with Down syndrome bring to the workplace, and the value that working brings to individuals with Down syndrome. The report also recognizes there are challenges to address when it comes to include individuals with Down syndrome in the workplace. To learn more, download the full report.
The winter 2021 issue of 3:21, Canada’s Down syndrome magazine, is entirely dedicated to housing and employment for adults with Down syndrome. This issue of the magazine is available for free online and provides helpful information on the following employment subjects:
- Employment success stories
- How employment services can help people with Down syndrome find work
- Advice for jobseekers
- Employment during the COVID-19 pandemic
Employable Me (TVO.org) [Video]
This documentary series seeks to demonstrate that having a physical disability or neurological condition doesn’t mean being unemployable. The following episodes feature people with Down syndrome:
- Season 1, episode 3: In this episode, Thomas eagerly seeks employment to support his goal to live independently.
- Season 2, episode 3: In this episode, Jessica confidently hunts for a job as part of her goal to live on her own.
EPIC has been dedicating to helping people with disabilities find work for the more than 30 years. While EPIC provides its services outside of Canada, the resources on its website are still informative and relevant to Canadians with Down syndrome. The employment services for people with Down syndrome section takes a brief look at the following employment subjects:
- Preparing for the right job
- Work experience
- Interview techniques
- On-the-job support
This website features a multitude of work success stories by individuals with Down syndrome. While the success stories are described very briefly, they provide inspiration and job ideas, along with clear evidence that there are many roles that can offer individuals with Down syndrome meaningful work.
Transition Planning (National Down Syndrome Society) [Guide/brochure]
Put together by the National Down Syndrome Society, this brochure was designed to help students with Down syndrome – and those who support them – prepare for life after high school. In addition to covering employment options on pages seven and eight, the brochure also explores:
- Introduction to transition planning
- Post-secondary education, employment and housing options after high school
- Why, when and how to initiate transition planning
- The components of a successful transition plan
- When and how to evaluate and modify the transition plan
- ‘Everybody deserves a shot’: Job offers more than a paycheque to man with Down syndrome (CBC)
- Why hiring people with Down syndrome is good for business (3.21 magazine)
- Inclusive workplaces are good for business (Government of Canada)
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