About Us


CAYA began as a special project of SET-BC in July 2005 to address the needs of young adults with severe communication disabilities as they were leaving the education system. Before CAYA, young adults who used augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) had an uncertain future as they left behind the communication support service and technology of the childhood education system (K -12). CAYA ensures that these young adults can maintain this vital link to the world through independent communication. Since beginning in 2005, CAYA has received annual grants from the Ministry of Social Development and now has been formally recognized in the BC budget with secure funding until 2015. CAYA now provides service to all eligible adults; young, middle-aged, and elderly, over the age of 19 years.


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 allow 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. While we at CAYA are grateful for this funding we recognize that it is not adequate to meet the demand across the province. As a result of this ongoing funding shortfall, we will continue to have a wait list.

CAYA operates on 3 intake cycles per year. To ensure that we address the needs of individuals with fairness and responsiveness, Requests for Service will continue to be triaged and activated based on a range of individual factors including:

  • urgency (e.g. terminal diagnosis, imminent loss of housing or employment due to loss of communication)
  • geographical factors (CAYA provides service across BC, to keep costs down we cluster visits to remote regions)
  • transition factors (enabling individuals to smoothly leave school, or move from institutional to individual living situations)
  • length of time on waitlist
  • other factors as identified


CAYA clients have either never had or have recently lost the capacity for functional speech. The origins of these problems stem from problems at birth (e.g. cerebral palsy) or genetic conditions (e.g. Down’s Syndrome) or acquired conditions (e.g. traumatic brain injury). Most CAYA clients have long-standing communication disabilities and CAYA is there to ensure that they have the communication supports to build an adult life of the greatest possible independence.  Teams who support CAYA Clients must agree to participate in the assessment process and continue the implementation of the communication system on a daily/regular basis as part of the Personal Support Plan.


CAYA provides a time dependent service.  Assessment and intervention will occur for approximately four months, after which time the Client and his/her Team will be expected to assume responsibility for continued implementation and use of the communication system.  The overall service is comprised of the following modules:

  • Assessment – CAYA provides assessment services through our skilled Speech-Language Pathologists to determine the best augmentative or alternative communication system for eligible clients and a thoughtful implementation plan incorporating the resources and strengths of their supporters and families.
  • Equipment – CAYA maintains a loan bank of AAC devices and accessories that are available for indefinite loan to CAYA clients following the recommendations of the Speech-Language Pathologists. We recognize that communication is an essential human function so equipment is supported and repaired on a rapid turn-around basis.
  • Daily/Regular Use: Once the appropriate communication system has been determined and the Client and Team Members trained in its use, the Client will be placed on “monitor” status, and the daily implementation and use will become the responsibility of the Client and their support team.
  • Training and Resources – CAYA provides families and other care providers with periodic training opportunities and other resources to ensure the successful implementation of AAC initiatives with clients. Training modules and resource packages are offered, both in small group settings and on-line in collaboration with the SET-BC Learning Centre.  It is expected that day programs and group homes will allow their staff the opportunities to attend such events, to ensure that the Client’s communication system will continue to be successfully implemented.
  • Follow-up – CAYA follows through with clients after the conclusion of the initial assessment and provision process with annual calls and contacts. Technical support is available to all CAYA clients to keep their technology functional.


Individuals eligible for CAYA include::

  • Adults aged 19 years and older who require an AAC system due to a severe communication disability, i.e. speech that is not functional for daily communication* (*This does not include individuals whose primary communication disability is a hearing loss. CAYA does not provide hearing aids or assisted listening devices. Individuals with hearing disabilities are encouraged to contact the Western Institute of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Vancouver www.widhh.com )
  • Adults aged 19 years and older who are already using an AAC system, but require further training and resources to improve of maintain communicative function
  • Students in Grade 12 (or the last year of their K-12 program) who require an AAC system post-graduation