Nothing without us – Co-design in a time of change

Mr Ben Alexander1, Miss Hayley Brooks1

1Council for Intellectual Disability, Surry Hills, Australia

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CDRP) is based on the foundation of nothing about us without us. It is important the CRPD translates into reality through policy, research and practice, by involving people with lived experience in matters that affect their lives.

Whilst the convention exists, people with intellectual disability still face barriers where structures are not inclusive or accessible. Additional barriers to co-design have also occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic with the move to online and remote work, with people with intellectual disability unable to meet in person and needing to navigate different technologies.

Council for Intellectual Disability will share their experience and guiding principles of co-design in this new and evolving way of working, so that we can all continue to connect and work effectively with people with intellectual disability. Council for Intellectual Disability staff member with intellectual disability will be a co-presenter.

Council for Intellectual Disability developed guiding principles for co-design based on learnings of what has worked and what has not worked for people with intellectual disability in co-design before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Council for Intellectual Disability’s guiding principles and practical examples support the inclusion of people with intellectual disability in co-design by reminding people of inclusive values and processes including:

  • Supporting and creating opportunities for people to share their experiences using online technologies
  • Ensuring communications are accessible

With these changing times, it is more important than ever to ensure our co-design is inclusive and accessible. Without this, work intended to support people with intellectual disability can inadvertently cause disempowerment and additional barriers.


Ben Alexander is an Inclusion Project Worker at Council for Intellectual Disability. Ben’s increases awareness of inclusion for people with disability. He believes everyone has the right to a good job and a good life. He is a passionate sports fan (go Roosters) and CID’s Trivia Master.