Down Syndrome South Afica

About Down Syndrome South Africa (DSSA)

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Down Syndrome South Africa (DSSA) is a non profit organisation (NPO 009-415) and was formed in 1986 as the the national umbrella body and parent advocacy organisation and lobby group for the constitutional rights of persons with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. DSSA currently has 14 branches/support groups throughout the country. The total national membership is at present more than six thousand families from both urban as well as rural areas in the country. The main Centre, namely Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town have over many years served thousands of families with support services and home programmes. Most of the work is still being done by parents on a voluntary basis.

Our Priority Areas:


Through the commitment of DSSA to establish outreach programmes in all provinces of the country, the number of member families in rural disadvantaged areas who are receiving support from the organisation is substantial. Important progress has been made in most of these areas where we have Outreach groups providing important support and services to disadvantaged families. In practice it happens that not only children with Down syndrome receive services from the regional associations but also many other children with some form of intellectual disability or cognitive impairment. 

Through these outreach programmes we have set up numerous SELF HELP GROUPS where parents have been trained in setting up and running Self Help Groups in their areas. These SHG have been growing in numbers and as a result more parents are benefiting from these groups. Read more under our projects page.


Over the past few years the organisation has become an important advocacy movement for the recognition of the rights of persons with Down syndrome and their families. We have over the past few years contributed to the legislative processes around the South African Schools Act, the National Integrated Disability Strategy, the Bill on Skills Training, the Sterilisation Bill, the Child Care Act and the Report of the National Commission on Special Needs in Education and Training and the UN Convention (2007) on the Rights of Disabled People. Further to that our National Executive Director has presented submissions to the Parliamentary Committee advocating for the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families.


An important component of DSSA activities has been to empower people with Down syndrome other intellectual disabilities and their families. This has been done through various training programmes such as New Parent Support, Inclusive Education, Inclusive and Supported Employment, Safety & Protection - Right to Know' and Self Advocacy. (The Self Advocacy training has enabled people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities to stand up and speak for themselves about their rights as well as assist them to set up their own groups in their areas and discuss issues which affect their lives). To participate in the training sessions:

CONTACT US ON 0861-369-672 (DOWNSA) 011-440-6083 or email: