Our Team

History and Origins

CAYA began 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 depended on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) had an uncertain future as they left behind the communication supports and technology of the childhood education system (K -12). In 2010, the provincial government mandated CAYA to provide communication technology and supports to adults of all ages, to ensure they can maintain vital links to the world through independent communication. From 2005 to 2012, CAYA received annual grants from the Ministry of Social Development. Since 2012, CAYA has been formally included in the BC provincial budget. CAYA now provides service to all eligible adults; young, middle-aged, and elderly, 18 years and older

“I know the importance of having such a powerful device because I had to live with something much simpler in the past, before CAYA came along. I wasn’t able to say everything that I wanted to and not everyone understood what I had to say.”

Service Priorities

In February, 2015, CAYA was recognized in the BC Provincial Budget with budget line funding of $5.7 million for the next three operating years 2015-2018 ($1.9 million annually) from the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation. On March 31, 2017, the province of BC committed $4 million dollars of funding to CAYA over the next two years, to March, 2019. This welcome funding will be applied to…

  • An increase in the annual operating budgets for 2017-18 and 2018-19 ($2.3M annually), with a temporary increase in clinical staff to address client wait times for service
  • Expanding community SLP capacity to enable more clients to be assessed and served.
  • Replacing older, obsolete, and unrepairable equipment in active use by clients and in the loan bank, with updated technology
  • Updating and enhancing CAYA’s key information system, CAYAdata, the backbone of services provided by CAYA across the province

This funding will allow CAYA to continue to provide communication devices and services to people with complex communication disabilities in BC until March 31st, 2019.

There is a wait list for service. As of July 2017, wait-time for service is…

  • an average of 10 months,

  • a range from 2-to-38 months.

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


Approximately 50% of CAYA clients have congenital disabilities, and 50% have later acquired disabilities.
“There is so much that I do in my daily life that would be impossible if I didn’t have a voice. Sure, my voice comes in the form of a communication device, but it’s just as effective and just as important to me as anyone else’s voice. From being able to communicate my everyday needs to caring for and having relationships with those around me, without a voice, it would all be impossible and I would feel very isolated and very frustrated.”

Who are CAYA Clients

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, ALS). 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.


“I am a disabled man with a mission to make aware to all people that I have a neurological disorder, however, it does not consume my being. This is just one piece of my puzzle, and it only makes me human.”

CAYA Community Partners