GGIA Laureate Dr. Tom Chau helps non-verbal individuals communicate

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Man standing at podium accepting an award

Photo credit: MCpl Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall. © OSGG, 2018 | Photo : cplc Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall, © BSGG, 2018

by Governor General's Innovation Awards
Jul 20, 2018
Toronto, ON

Governor General’s Innovation Awards 2018 Laureate

“Hi Dad; Mom, Can I have a hug; I love school,” these are some of the first words children say when they are given the opportunity to communicate thanks to 2018 Governor General’s Innovation Award laureate, Dr. Tom Chau. Dr. Chau’s inspiring work focuses on developing technologies that helps non-verbal individuals communicate.

Dr. Chau is director of the Toronto’s Bloorview Research Institute and Vice President of Research at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, with a focus to help children with disabilities communicate with ease. Of his work, Dr. Chau states, “We are boldly reimagining the way we communicate. We believe that the body is communicative, even in the absence of speech and gestures. It’s just that we’ve never been attune to listen.”

Dr. Chau’s team developed “The Hummer”, a sensor that sits on a child’s neck to detect the vibrating of the vocal folds through humming. The information is fed to a computer allows the patient to build a vocabular and speak with those around him.

Governor General of Canada presenting award to winner
Photo credit: MCpl Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall. © OSGG, 2018

Every day, Dr. Chau’s work continues to help children across Canada communicate with their families, their teachers, and the world around them.

“I have a personal dream, and that is that all children, regardless of ability will be able to enjoy the full right of communication” – Dr. Chau.

Award winner talking to two women

Read more about Dr. Chau in our Partner booklet with Public Policy Forum and view a video description of Dr. Chau’s innovation.

Follow Dr. Chau on Twitter: @chautom

Learn more about his innovation here:

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