Gypsies and travellers in Somerset are talking to members of their own community for a survey of their accommodation needs.
They are being trained as community interviewers by De Montfort University, in Leicester, which has been commissioned to carry out the research.
The survey will set out how many pitches are needed and identify sites.
The Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) is a legal requirement for local authorities.
The survey will determine the size of the travelling community in Somerset, employment issues and aspirations to move in or out of permanent housing.
It will also look at travelling habits, and access to healthcare, education and other public services.
Mendip district councillor Nigel Woollcombe-Adams said the university's approach "gives real community empowerment to the travelling community".
He said: "As a council we are aware that we have a real need and legal obligation in Mendip to provide additional places.
"Once the GTAA is completed and our pitch requirement is outlined, we will continue to work closely with gypsies and travellers and the local community in Mendip to find suitable locations."
Andy Foyne, of South Somerset District Council, who chairs the group overseeing production of the GTAA, said the survey had been extended until October to include various sections of the community as they visit at different times of the year.