About this guide
This guide lists and describes the various roles and responsibilities people can take on during the co-design process. It’s not an exhaustive list, and you may want to discuss other potential roles with your co-designers during the planning phase of the project.
Roles and responsibilities
Facilitator responsibilities may include introducing the session and the activities to participants, ensuring everyone is able to participate, and supporting the group in the creative process and decision making.
When undertaking community-led co-design, it is important to seek out facilitators or co-facilitators from the community, and to be aware of emerging leadership from the group. For more information, see Involving Community Members in Planning.
Note takers help capture the main points of the discussion, including any design ideas or decisions that are made. This is typically done by taking written notes, but other forms of documentation may be used including audio or video recording. Depending on the structure of your session and activities, you may need more than one note taker (e.g. one per small breakout group).
It is important to rotate this role amongst participants and community members, and to avoid assumptions and expectations about who should be a notetaker based on those who may have typically taken on this role in the past.
Capturing media: Videos, photos, audio
You may wish to have someone dedicated to capturing the event, process, and outcomes through video, audio, or photos. Or you may ask participants to record their work themselves. If this is a part of your co-design session, make sure that participants have given their consent, and that there’s a way for them to opt out.
If possible, it is helpful to have someone dedicated to taking care of logistics for your session, including booking the venue, gathering participants’ food needs and ordering food, purchasing or gathering required materials, and setting up the room.
Helping with accessibility needs
Responsibilities of this role might include coordinating with the accessibility service providers (ASL translators, language translators, captioners, peer emotional support workers, etc), making sure auto-captioning is working, and answering any questions or concerns participants may have about accessibility.
This role may be especially useful for remote co-design sessions, where software like Zoom often require troubleshooting, one-on-one technical support, and workarounds to make the event accessible.
Having one or more people dedicated to ensuring that the technology is working at an in-person event or providing tech support during a remote event allows facilitators and others to focus more on ensuring the process flows smoothly and that participants are taken care of.
Caregiving or other support
Whether in a formal role of support or not, participants may wish to have friends, family, or personal caregivers attend a co-design session with them. It is a good idea to let participants know that this is a possibility and to get clarity from them about the role of their support person and how they wish them to be involved (or not) in the co-design activities and process.
It is important to consider whether and how you will compensate caregivers for their time in the co-design session. This is something you can discuss with the participant directly.
Peer support is “emotional and practical support between two people who share a common experience, such as a mental health challenge or illness. A Peer Supporter has lived through a similar experience, and is trained to support others”, according to Peer Support Canada.
A peer supporter can be helpful for your co-design if you are working with a group of people who have emotional support needs, or if you think there is a chance that participants may disclose or share challenging or traumatic experiences (e.g. sexual assault, immigration processes, racial trauma, medical trauma, etc). Mental health organisations and feminist anti-violence organisations often provide training in peer support; some may offer certification while others are intentionally non-professional and are based on a model of mutual aid.
Note that participants may wish to bring a friend or familiar support person with them to the session instead.
Summary of roles and responsibilities in planning and preparing for a co-design session
- Plan the co-design process
- Design the activities for the co-design sessions
- Design and assemble the tools and materials that support the co-design activities
- Consider how you will organize any co-facilitation (who will do what, how to trade off duties if needed, etc)
- Find participants
- Gather accessibility needs and coordinate services so that the co-design engagement is accessible
- Understand and plan your technology needs, especially for remote participation
- Coordinate logistics of the co-design engagement - securing the location, finding food and drinks, arranging transportation, dispensing co-designer compensation