Find answers to frequently asked questions about VATTA.



How much does it cost to become a VATTA member?

Nothing, it is FREE! All your costs for traveling and speaking are covered by CDSS and our funders.

Does it cost VATTA members money to travel?

No, all of your costs for traveling and speaking are covered by CDSS.

Do I get paid to be a VATTA member?

No, VATTA members do not get paid. They are volunteers and donate their time and work each year to advocate on behalf of Canadians with Down syndrome.

How is VATTA funded?

To help the group advocate on behalf of Canadians with Down syndrome, the committee gets money from KPMG. The committee would like to thank KPMG for believing in the work of VATTA and their impact on the people of Canada.


What is VATTA?

The Voices at the Table for Advocacy (also called “VATTA”) is a group of adults with Down syndrome who believe that by using their voice, equal opportunities will be available for all Canadians!

What does VATTA do?

VATTA works together to advocate on behalf of Canadians with Down syndrome. They meet three times a year in person to discuss issues affecting people with Down syndrome and work on projects about these issues. Their work includes:

  • Helping CDSS with issues important to adults with Down syndrome
  • Presenting at both national and international conferences
  • Creating presentations, working on projects, and writing blogs
  • Answering questions from the media
  • Speaking in their communities about different issues facing Canadians with Down syndrome
  • Working with other organizations
  • And much more!

In other words, VATTA works together to raise awareness and make change!

Does VATTA have a vision and mission?

Yes, along with a strategic plan, VATTA has created a vision and mission statement.

Vision: All people use their abilities to participate in their community.

Mission: To help all Canadians see the ability. VATTA helps self-advocates use their voice and stand up for what they believe in.

How did VATTA begin?

VATTA was started in 2005 as part of a CDSS project to share the voices and abilities of Canadian adults with Down syndrome. Soon after it started, the committee quickly showed Canada how powerful and important their voices were. This committee’s motto, “Nothing about us, without us” proved itself through the group’s activities. The work that VATTA has done since 2005 has made huge changes in the Down syndrome community. VATTA celebrated its 10-year anniversary in May 2015 and the committee has become an important part of CDSS.

Does anyone else work with the committee?

Yes, a facilitator works with VATTA. This facilitator is a staff member at the CDSS office in Calgary, Alberta, and plans all of the travel arrangements, speaking engagements, and conference calls, and other work.

Does VATTA travel? If so, where do they travel to?

VATTA members travel a minimum of three times a year: The Canadian Down Syndrome Conference is held in a different Canadian city in May of each year – each VATTA member travels to the city in which the conference is held. The committee also meets in January and September of each year for their meetings. These meetings are in Toronto.

How often does VATTA work together?

  • VATTA talk about once a month through emails and conference calls (organized by the VATTA Facilitator).
  • VATTA meets in a different Canadian city in May of each year for the Canadian Down Syndrome Conference. They have meetings before the conference to work on projects, and then present during the conference.
  • VATTA also meets for two days in January and September of each year for their in-person meetings. During these meetings, they talk about current events, advocacy ideas, and issues important to adults with Down syndrome. They also do a lot of work to get presentations and projects done. VATTA members attend all of these meetings independently.
  • VATTA members also speak in their communities and are sometimes asked to present at events across Canada (and sometimes internationally!)


Do all VATTA members have Down syndrome?

Yes, all VATTA members have Down syndrome.

How old do you have to be to become a VATTA member?

To become a VATTA member you must be over the age of eighteen (18). There is no maximum age.

What if I have never travelled by myself before? Can I still apply to become a VATTA member?

Yes, of course you can still apply to become a VATTA member! In fact, when the committee was formed in 2005, none of the VATTA members had flown by themselves before. Over the past years, the VATTA members have gained the skills to travel independently, including flying and attending the Annual Conference on their own! VATTA is looking for new open-minded members who are willing to learn and try new things.

What if I have experience speaking in public about Down syndrome, but I have never spoken at a national conference before?

Don’t worry, when VATTA was formed in 2005, none of the members had spoken at a national conference before. To become a VATTA member, it is important that you are comfortable speaking in public about Down syndrome and some of your life experiences. However, experience speaking at a national conference is not needed.

How long do VATTA members stay on the committee?

New members of the VATTA Committee are asked to commit to at least 2 years, but are welcome to stay on the committee for as long as a 10 years. Four of the original VATTA members retired in May 2015.

What if I need support to be a VATTA member?

Many of the VATTA members need some support. The most important part of being a VATTA member is being passionate about people with disabilities, and having your own thoughts and ideas! During meetings and conference calls, VATTA members need to talk with the other members about their ideas and work with the team to do projects. The VATTA Facilitator can also help you if you are having trouble getting your ideas organized. Some VATTA members may use support to help them type up their work or organize their thoughts. Other members may need support to get them to the airport.

What skills do I need to become a VATTA member?

There are all sorts of skills that can make you a great VATTA member! Some examples are:

  • You love to speak in public
  • You are passionate about Down syndrome and other disabilities
  • You are good at writing and want to share your thoughts with Canada
  • You have a job and want to teach employers that all people should have equal opportunities
  • You are involved in your community but want to share your voice with all of Canada
  • You have big ideas on how to show others the abilities of people with Down syndrome
  • These are only some of the skills or interests that make a good VATTA member. If you have any questions about becoming a VATTA member, you can email the VATTA facilitator 

How do I become a VATTA member?

VATTA will post available positions online  when they are looking for new members. Keep an eye on the CDSS Facebook page, and the CDSS website. You can apply at any time by going to the Join VATTA section of our blog. We will keep your application until it’s time to look for a new VATTA member.