COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Governor John Kasich expanded a program Thursday to help people with disabilities work and stay in their homes.
The “Technology First” program uses technology like an Amazon Echo or artificial intelligence to help people with developmental disabilities go to school, go to work, or simply not need care 24 hours a day.
“People would always have to be with me to even open the door, to get out, to get in,” said Patti Ruble who uses an Amazon Echo to control a long list of functions in her home. “I never thought any of this was possible.”
Ruble has polio. She can move her head and neck as well as one of her hands. She’s received help from the state to put cameras and voice recognition software in her home.
“This has given me a freedom, independence,” she said. “I can keep on doing my thing with my life.”
The governor used a robot named Milo who is equipped with artificial intelligence to make the announcement.
“A device like (Milo) can bring comfort to a very lonely person,” Kasich said. “There are sensors that can be used for people who have, for example, Alzheimer’s, and at times can wander away.”
A start-up business in Grandview Heights has developed some of this technology for people like Ruble.
“We can custom-make different buttons for different disabilities so you’re not getting something you can’t press,” said Ali Rahimi with the company Medforall.
Ruble said she likes going off on her own. The technology provided by Medforall allows her to run errands or take her dog for a walk on her own.
“The world is so free to me now,” Ruble said. “It’s like, ‘sure, I’ll go up there for you’.”
Rahimi said the technology his company uses has advanced so quickly the sky is the limit for who it can help and how.
Kasich said there’s a shortage of caregivers in Ohio. He said the technology should help people providing care, not replace them.