COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Six years ago, Governor John Kasich launched his “Employment First” initiative which helped connected Ohioans with developmental disabilities find jobs that had living-wages. Since then 9,600 Ohioans have found jobs.
Today, Kasich takes the next step in making the lives of those Ohioans with developmental disabilities better through the use of new technology that will help them and their care givers provide them a higher quality of life.
Two examples of this were on display today at in the Lincoln room at the Statehouse where Kasich signed his executive order.
The first was a wheelchair designed and outfitted by Ali Rahimi and his company Medforall, for Patti Ruble.
Ruble contracted Polio at 12 years old and is now confined to a wheelchair, but she hasn’t let it stop her.
She earned a Master’s Degree and is a social worker.
Ali met Patti when he was in college, he wanted to be a video game designer but had to take a course in which he was assigned the task of talking to a social worker who helps the disabled.
He was shocked when he first met her. Ali had emigrated from Iran with his family right after the turn of the century and at first he could not understand how someone in Patti’s state could have earned her Master’s Degree.
His understanding quickly expanded and the two developed a bond.
Ali wanted to help make her life better so he set aside his plans to go into game design and first tried to create a company that would help manage all of the service providers she had due to her condition.
He found though, that no matter how well he paid the people or how well trained they were, the break downs in communication seemed to be too much to overcome.
And then she told him about how unpredictable life in a wheelchair could be and that one time she fell over and had to wait until someone found her to help her.
That’s when he decided to go back to technology to try and solve her problems.
Ali developed software and sensors that are placed in strategic parts of a wheelchair that can monitor a wide variety of things from what position Patti is in, if she is moving, even what the environment around her is like.
All that data is can be tracked and if she is in need, she not only can press a button to call for help, they will know what her situation is without her having to tell them.
The other technology on display Thursday was Milo, a roughly two foot tall robot that can be used to help kids with autism.
The children can sense they are not interacting with a real person, and yet the motorized facial muscles can help them learn how to do that with real people. It can teach them how to smile for instance.
The robot is fully programmable with voice prompts and movements, it can dance according to Kasich, and its functions can be run from an iPad.
The state of Ohio purchase 10 of the robots for use around the state.
After a playful back and forth with the robot, Kasich signed his executive order.
In addition to making the use of technology a priority it creates a new council to make recommendations that will help expand the use of supportive technologies for people with developmental disabilities.