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Hiring someone with Down syndrome is a great idea, but if you’ve never done it before, it may raise a lot of questions. Don’t worry, the first step is to ask what you don’t already know.

What is Down syndrome?

Down syndrome occurs when some or all of a person’s cells have an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. It is the most frequently occurring chromosomal condition. One in every 772 babies is born with Down syndrome in the United States, totaling about 5,100 live births each year. More than 200,000 people in the United States  – of every race and economic level – have Down syndrome.  Today, people with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways. Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to participate fully in all aspects of their community. Life expectancy has changed dramatically in the last few decades from 25 years of age to 60 or beyond today. More on Down syndrome. More on Down syndrome.

What is People First Language?

Words matter, and their impacts can be empowering or disempowering. People First Language helps ensure our words empower by putting the person, not his or his disability, first. In its simplest form, it means saying “a person with Down syndrome” instead of “a Down syndrome person.” It also means never using the r-word and other terms that hurt whether directed at someone with a disability or not. More on People First Language.

Does it make business sense to hire someone with Down syndrome?

People with disabilities have historically faced enormous hurdles to getting a job. But the facts show that businesses can actually boost their competitive edge by making people with disabilities an integral part of their workforce and their customer base.

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How many hours can someone with Down syndrome work?

Each person with Down syndrome is unique and has his or her own personality, skills, physical strength and ability to stay on task. An employee with Down syndrome may need a part-time schedule or they may be able to work full time. A Regional Employment Collaborative liaison in your region can help you find a qualified candidate who meets your needs.

What kind of accommodations can I expect?

Most workers with disabilities do not need any special equipment or accommodations. Of those who do, nearly half of accommodations cost nothing. 45% of accommodations have a one-time cost, typically around $500, but accessibility costs for workers with disabilities are almost always covered by federal tax incentives.

Will I be expected to hire someone who isn’t qualified?

You will be asked to be open-minded, humane, and even think outside the box. But nobody will ask you to hire someone who can’t do the job. Whoever you hire must be able to satisfy your job requirements and perform the essential functions of the position, with or without accommodations.

What is the secret to success?

Your commitment to inclusive hiring is the most important element for success. On your way to finding Your Next Star, there may be challenges and setbacks, but your dedication and a willingness to reach out for help will carry the day. A Regional Employment Collaborative liaison in your region can help answer any questions you have and make the process easy and smooth.

What are tax incentives?

A range of tax incentives are available to help employers cover the cost of accommodations for employees with disabilities and to make their places of business accessible for employees and/or customers with disabilities. Read more here.

What else can I do to create an inclusive work environment?

There’s a wide range of practices, policies, programs and outreach that will help employees with disabilities feel more welcomed and allow them to succeed at your company. These steps will send a message to prospective employees and the general public alike that you’re an employer who truly values inclusion. Implement these as you’re able.

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Where can I find more information and resources for employers?

Click here to view our full database of resources for employers.

Where can I find more information and resources for applicants?

Click here to view our full database of resources for applicants.