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Cognition – Katie

line drawing of person

Age: 40    Height: 5ft

Lives in: Essex

Downs Syndrome

Assistive aids:

Links: Case studies | Related statistics

What I can do

  • Can complete tasks on instruction
  • Can spell
  • Can read well
  • Have good IT skills
  • Good at finding way to known places
  • Can play the piano
  • Can swim a mile

What I cannot do

  • Cannot count well enough to handle money
  • Have difficulty expressing myself to other people
  • Require assistance for selection of unknown goods
  • Cannot use public transport independently
  • Need support in the selection of clothes appropriate to occasion and season
  • Need support for cooking
  • Cannot navigate way to new places


Supported volunteer in the office at an adventure playground for children with learning difficulties for three days a week.

Work at café run by a charity two days a week – serving meals, baking, cooking and serving customers.

My condition

I have Downs Syndrome. My fingers are small and fine control is good but this makes some tasks like opening packages and undoing small buttons difficult. I wear glasses only for reading or watching TV or using the computer. I have tiny wide feet which makes buying  fashionable shoes difficult – children’s shoes are too narrow and clothes are too long in the arms and too short in the legs.

A typical day

I go to work during the day and go out in the evening to one of my clubs – for dancing, swimming and drama.

Good designs and how they improve my life

  • Large, clear buttons make it easier for me to use things.
  • Large print in books so I can read them better.
  • Packaging that opens easily.

Lessons for designers

Simple, clear and easy to use designs.

Poor designs and how they impact my life

It makes it harder for me to use them independently.

Five most important ‘things’ in my life

My family, my friends, my laptop, my TV and DVDs, my music.

Message for designers

Keep everything simple to use, don’t complicate things so that I can access them independently.