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Down Syndrome International logo


Down Syndrome International has members in 140 countries around the world, working to raise the voice of people with Down syndrome and ensure their human rights are upheld.

We have increased our focus on inclusive participation, ensuring that people with Down syndrome are more involved in the work of our organisation. Since 2020 we have held monthly Zoom meetings with a team of volunteers who have Down syndrome.

We needed a way for the group to keep in contact between meetings and for us to gather quick feedback from the team.

Our solution uses a pre-existing app (with no coding needed). The app creates an inclusive and safe community space for our volunteer team (safeguarding is a priority for us and many apps don’t fit our needs).

Recipe status

This recipe has been in use since July 2021.

We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem, but we believe Down Syndrome International’s learnings could be very useful to other organisations.

Users and needs served

  • As a person with Down syndrome, I need clear and accessible communication when I am working with organisations remotely, so I can take part.

Software and tools used


Connecteam is a team management app that we have personalised to meet the needs of our group. We have set the app up to fit our branding colours and logo. There is a chat room function which is almost identical to WhatsApp but with some important differences. We have the admin rights to select who is able to speak to who. Think of a closed off app that combines the newsfeed nature of Facebook with the messaging functionality of WhatsApp.


£51.50 per month (this is with a 25% discount for charities and NGOs).


The cost may be high for many organisations.

The app can only be used by users on a smartphone.

The chat rooms stay open 24 hours a day so conversations may take place outside of your working hours. This would need to be risk assessed.


Zoom (or any video calling app with ability to share screen) is a video calling app that is widely used and understood by many people. We use Zoom as we have found it to be the most accessible and familiar to the people we are working with. We used Zoom to facilitate our testing and onboarding. It was really useful for us and the volunteer team as we could guide people through the sign-up stages and ask to see their phone screen if they got stuck at any point.


The free version has some limitations or £11.99 per month for the pro version.


If someone hasn’t used Zoom before you may have to think about how you will onboard them as it can be tricky for people who are brand new to it.


Loom is a video messaging app where you can record your screen and a small video of yourself. It’s user friendly and easy to put instructional videos together.


We used a free version which gave us 25 videos of up to 5 minutes in length, which was plenty.


There are other options if you need longer videos.

Recipe steps

1. Start Connecteam free trial

Go to the Connecteam website and create an account Setting up and adding people is done on an admin page using a computer then users download the app to their phones to use it.

2. Book in time slot with advisor

Connecteam has an excellent onboarding process and offer a 1:1 demonstration over Zoom. We found this meeting very useful and the team there seems dedicated to providing an excellent service no matter the size of your package.

3. Build the app to your preferences

Following a demonstration we made some additional tweaks to the security settings and branding options.

4. Onboard team members and give them admin rights

Before onboarding any users we suggest adding all the staff members who will be using the app. During this time explain how the app works and agree on who will be responsible for monitoring the app.

5. Onboard users over video call

Your onboarding process will depend on your users. We found having a Zoom meeting with up to 5 people worked well as we could support users with any issues and offer reassurance. Encourage users to tell you if they have any problems with the app so you can find solutions. We created short guidance videos using Loom to explain how to use the app. (You are welcome to use ours but as your app will look different you may want to make your own.)

6. Use updates and chat features to engage users

We found that staff need to play an active role in keeping the conversation alive and focused on our work together. We are following a monthly topic that we are using for conversation starters. There are features including polls and events that you can use to keep people engaged with the app.


The app runs for 24 hours a day so it’s important to assess the risks. One of the main reasons we settled on Connecteam is because you can limit who speaks to who. We have our settings set up so that users can only interact with people within groups, so no 1:1 conversations can happen outside of the groups. We also encourage people to have a support staff member in the group as well.


Many thanks to Down Syndrome International for contributing this recipe.


This recipe is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

That means you are free to copy, redistribute, and build on the text of this recipe, but only for non-commercial purposes (if you want to use it for commercial purposes, get in touch with us at [email protected]). You must give credit to both Catalyst and Down Syndrome International and link back to this page. If you build on this recipe then you must share your version under this same licence.

Recipe published on November 26th, 2021. Last updated March 30th, 2022