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.”
In 2019, CAYA received a renewed mandate in the BC provincial budget from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to continue to the important work of addressing the needs of adults in BC with severe communication disabilities. The official news release from the Government of BC may be viewed here.
This welcome funding will allow CAYA to continue to provide communication devices and services to people with complex communication disabilities in BC until March 31st, 2022.
There is a wait list for service. As of July 2019, the wait-time for service is…
an average of 9 months,
a range from 2-to-26 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.”