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Co-design cost considerations

This list includes some of the main costs inherent in running of a co-design event.

To ensure a collaborative event is inclusive and accessible there are some fundamental costs that should be considered by the organizers. To treat participants respectfully, organizers should provide them with fair honoraria. Although this can be very expensive, it helps to build longer and more trusting relationships with participants. The other most expensive aspect of running collaborative events relates to providing accessibility services, such as sign language, audio description, translation, captions, braille, child care, etc. These services are provided upon request by attendees. Organizers should inform participants of the availability of such services in advance, so they have an opportunity to request them. Renting a space can also be expensive if your organization doesn’t already have an environment that could be used for such events. Working with organizations that offer free or low cost spaces for these events, such as community centres, libraries, local think tanks, churches, etc. can help with this cost. The cost of providing food and refreshments also depends on the duration and timing of your event. For shorter events (less than 3 hours) you can provide beverages and snacks. However for longer events, proper meals are needed in addition to snacks.


  • Participant honoraria
    • If we consider attendees as true co-designers, they should be treated similar to any other designer or staff from your organization.
    • If it is not financially possible for your organization to match their compensation with regular staff, ensure the honoraria is fair and respectful of the time and effort they have contributed to the process, trying to at least match it with the minimum wage in your region.
    • Avoid giving gift certificates to specific stores or brands as attendees may not use the products of those stores or brands. Giving out personal cheques might also be problematic for some attendees and may impact their social assistance benefits.
    • Honoraria in the form of compensation for personal assistants is recommended.
  • Participant transportation
    • Consider including transportation cost (e.g. return transport fare) in the honoraria or separately.
    • Consider providing parking passes.
  • Rental of space
    • In addition to rental cost, consider other costs associated with a space, such as cleaning or security staff.
  • Refreshments and food
    • Communicate with the attendees regarding their dietary preferences beforehand to ensure any dietary restriction is accommodated during the event.
  • Accessibility services
    • Sign Language: For a day long event, at least two translators are needed, so they can take breaks. If you are including small group activities, you may need two translators for groups that require sign language.
    • Audio Description: For a day long event, one audio describer is needed.
    • Captioning: You can provide either on-site or remote captioning services for your participants. If you are including small group activities, consider including a captioner per group.
  • Equipment as needed for activities (drawing, note taking, print, and so on)
    • Consider your attendees’ preferences and needs and ensure multiple options are available to participate in the activities. For instance, do not only rely on providing drawing and writing tools, provide options for recording voice notes, and entering digital notes using keyboards, switches, etc.