First ICEwest conference

The first “ICEwest” conference was held in Burnaby, BC, on October 5, 2013. Nineteen people who use AAC systems to communicate gathered from across the province to participate in the inaugural event. ICEwest follows the model of the Breaking the ICE conference in Toronto, ON, which was created by and for individuals who use AAC systems and their families.

Individuals who use communication devices planned, attended and presented at the ICEwest 2013 conference.  The theme for the day was Celebrating Change; there were a series of morning presenters, followed by a Town Hall meeting during which the group was encouraged to participate and share their own experiences.  Only individuals using their communication devices were able to contribute, making it a unique experience for people who aren’t always given the time they need to talk.

Derek, who has attended a Breaking the ICE conference in Toronto and in 2013 was a planning committee member and co-moderator of the Town Hall meeting, explained; “a conference that brings together people with similar challenges allows everyone to learn from each other – those who have more recently received their communication devices can see the potential of using such a device from those who have more experience.  It gives us a chance to network and form friendships.  The participants were given opportunities that they do not have on a regular basis, to share with others, to speak in a group and to truly be listened to.  Everyone went away with positive role models to follow, which will help foster their independence at home and in the community.”

The second ICEwest conference will be held on October 3, 2015. For more information please go to or contact Lois Turner at

Summer 2013

CAYA Provincial Office in Vancouver is moving locations! Due to funding uncertainties in 2010 and 2011, CAYA was unable to renew the lease on our provincial office space beyond a single year. Unfortunately this left us vulnerable to market pressures in the competitive office space environment of Metro Vancouver and we lost our lease. The good news is that we have acquired new space nearby which is being prepared for occupancy in early September. Over the summer we are temporarily operating in much reduced quarters with our operational partner SET-BC. We have been able to maintain our telephone numbers and mailing address during this period. We are attempting to make this transition as seamless as possible for our clients. We look forward to continuing to serve British Columbians who cannot speak from our new space in September 2013. Please watch for a new address announcement in September.

Additional Funding for CAYA gives people a voice.

On March 26, 2013, the Province committed to providing an additional $1.5 million in support for the Communication Assistance for Youth and Adults (CAYA) program. “To appreciate what a life changer this technology is, you simply need to talk to someone who has been given the means to communicate, to realize that every dollar we are able to provide CAYA will positively impact the quality of life for the recipient, their families and their greater community” said Minister of Social Development Moira Stilwell, M.D. “This additional funding will ensure that at least 60 more people with severe communication disabilities in B.C. will have their own voice, and the communication supports and technology to create an adult life of the greatest possible independence” said Jeffrey Riley, Manager of CAYA. Since 2005, CAYA has provided approximately 915 British Columbians with communications technologies. For the full story, please go to

CAYA Included in BC Provincial Budget 2012-2015

CAYA has been operating continuously since 2005 and as of April 2012 supports over 700 adults with communication disabilities across BC. On February 21st, 2012, CAYA was recognized in the BC Provincial Budget with budget line funding of $5.7 million ($1.9 million annually) from the Ministry of Social Development. This will enable CAYA to continue to provide communication devices and services to people with complex communication disabilities in BC for the budget funding period of 2012-2015. The ministry has committed to working with the community and CAYA to develop cost effective and long-term sustainable services for British Columbians with complex communication disabilities.