DSI presents at the Down Syndrome Education International Research Forum

DSI presented on Advisory Councils, employment and education


The Down Syndrome Education International Research Forum was held on 25th and 26th of April. As always, this was an excellent event with a wide –ranging, interesting and informative programme of presentations from across the world. There were over 200 attendees at the Forum from 27 countries including 62 researchers and 94 professionals. Down Syndrome Ireland was represented by four of our Member Support Team and one Regional Advisory Committee member. Our three presentations, delivered by Sinéad Flynn (Adult Education Officer), Kim O’Kelly (RAC member), Aoife Gaffney (Head of Employment), Nicola Hart (National Research and Support Specialist) and Fidelma Brady (Head of Education), were well received, generating interest and questions. 

Below are the topics present and discussed by the DSI team. 

Advisory Councils with Adults with Down syndrome 

Sinead and Kim presented on the Advisory Councils within Down Syndrome Ireland. Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI) has a long and proud history of advocating for, and on behalf of people with Down syndrome in Ireland. DSI also has a proud history of providing a platform for adults with Down syndrome to be advocates and to have their voices heard. This has primarily been done through DSI’s National Advisory Council (NAC). The aim is for these councils to offer the opportunity for adults with Down syndrome nationwide to have a structured input into the plans and activities of their local Down Syndrome Ireland branch. Members engage in structured self-advocacy and organisational training that enables then to be confident and effective self-advocates. 

DSI National Employment Programme 

Aoife and Nicola presented on the DSI National Employment Programme. DSI’s National Employment Programme is now in its 6th year and despite a 2-year hiatus during the pandemic, has supported 237 people with DS find meaningful and sustainable paid employment. Nicola and Aoife presented insights and analysis from a survey of employers about their experiences of working with Down Syndrome Ireland and of employing people with Down syndrome. This research gives some insights into which elements of DSI support are most valued by employers as well as suggestions for the future which may be of interest to other organisations considering employment programmes. 

Parent’s Issues in 2024 with the Education of their Children at Primary & Post Primary Stages 

Fidelma presented the findings of an internal DSI research project on issues identified by parents with the education of their children at both primary and post primary stages; and also outlined the implication of the revised SET Allocations. In addition to presenting the analysis of findings at this forum, a report will be prepared and shared with the Department of Education, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and the Oireachtas Committees on Education and Progressing Disabilities.

Down Syndrome Ireland was proud to be part of this important event. 

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