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Ohio Governor Signs Executive Order to Prioritize Tech Solutions for People with Disabilities

Gov. John Kasich signed the executive order to allow robots to help children with autism learn how to read social cues and better communicate with their peers.

(TNS) — COLUMBUS, OHIO — Smart wheelchairs, speakers that can turn on lights and other technology will be considered as part of care plans for Ohioans with developmental disabilities under an executive order signed Thursday by Gov. John Kasich.

Kasich signed the executive order — his sixth this year — alongside a small robot named Milo. The robot can be used to help children with autism learn how to read social cues and better communicate with people.

Kasich said the state plans to buy 10 Milo units at $5,000 apiece, and he hopes more units and similar technology can be available to a wider audience.

"Government is so stuck on itself and stuck in the past that to introduce new technologies that can really bring an exciting life to people is just about as cool as it can get," Kasich said at a statehouse news conference announcing the order.

Under the order, supportive technology should be prioritized when evaluating a person's needs —Kasich coined the phrase "technology first." The order creates a 10-member Ohio Technology First Council that will make recommendations for better incorporating technology to assist individuals with disabilities.

Patty Ruble of Columbus said technological features on her new wheelchair have allowed her to go out in public, alone, with confidence. The chair has sensors that monitor her location and sends alerts to a phone if something goes wrong.

"This has given me freedom and independence. I can keep on doing my thing with my life," Ruble said. "Thousands and thousands of people are going to feel the same way."

©2018 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.