Holland Bloorview helps launch the Infinity Communication Access Lab

April 11, 2011 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
On April 11, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, in partnership with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), launched the new Infinity Communication Access Lab at Sunny View Public School.

As the local MPP for both Holland Bloorview and Sunny View, Minister Kathleen Wynne is a proud supporter of this innovative partnership and provided remarks at the launch event.

This new satellite lab will improve access to communication technologies for children with the most complex disabilities in the school system, increasing their chances for academic success. A two-year pilot project at Sunny View Public School, the partnership is being funded solely through philanthropic support, championed by passionate parents from the Sunny View Youth Involvement Foundation and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation.

"There is no stronger driving force than a parent whose child has a need," says Minister Wynne. "The parents at Sunny View have been strong advocates for the needs of their children. This exciting partnership is a direct reflection of this drive."

The Infinity Lab is the brainchild of Dr. Tom Chau, a renowned biomedical engineer in the Bloorview Research Institute and Canada Research Chair in Paediatric Rehabilitation Engineering. Dr. Chau and his team are discovering novel communication channels for non-verbal kids to express themselves and indicate personal preference. One example demonstrated at the launch event is an iPod adapted for speech. Eight-year old Jacob, a non-verbal client of Holland Bloorview and Sunny View student, demonstrated how he communicates through subtle head movements that translate into iPod taps to create sentences.

"Holland Bloorview's new partnership with the TDSB and Sunny View offers an opportunity to accelerate the pace of the progress being made in Dr. Chau's lab," says Virginia Wright, interim director of the Bloorview Research Institute.

Dr. Chau's research focuses on the investigation and development of communication technologies for children and youth with severe physical disabilities. His focus on the physiological basis of communication promises to revolutionize the way we treat children who are 'locked in'.

"My dream for the Infinity Lab is to provide every child and adolescent in Canada with the means of communication," says Dr. Chau.

The project will provide an on-site communications assessment lab that is professionally staffed to increase opportunities to enhance students' success with communication access technology. The lab will include a process to measure and evaluate 'access to communication' solutions that are customized for each child.

Children who are able to participate in the program at Sunny View will benefit immediately, but this program also offers the potential to benefit many more children in schools across the TDSB and potentially around the world, as new solutions are developed, new knowledge is shared and teachers and therapists are trained in using these new technologies.

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation
Holland Bloorview is Canada's largest children's rehabilitation hospital. The hospital pioneers treatments, technologies, therapies and real-world programs that give children with disabilities the tools to participate fully in life. Every year, Holland Bloorview sees about 7,000 children with about 600 inpatient admissions and 58,000 outpatient visits. The Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation raises funds in the community for Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.

For more information, please visit: www.hollandbloorview.ca

Bloorview Research Institute
The only hospital-based research institute in childhood disability in Canada, the Bloorview Research Institute is dedicated to improving the lives of children with disabilities and their families through clinically-linked and applied pediatric rehabilitation research. The Institute conducts collaborative, breakthrough research focused around evaluating care, innovating and developing assistive devices, and reducing the barriers restricting inclusion of children with disabilities.

Sunny View Public School
Located in North Toronto, Sunny View Public School has served the needs of elementary students with physical disabilities for over 57 years.