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Technology changing lives of people with developmental disabilities

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News When Gov. John Kasich started pushing for technology to help people with developmental disabilities, John Martin was completely on board. He recalled Kasich’s blunt message. “You people are not using enough technology,” Martin said loudly, remembering Kasich blurting out orders. (Martin can get away with that, since both he and Kasich are leaving their jobs at the end of the year.) “He was demanding we use robots,” said Martin, who has a few weeks left as director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities. Martin knew the answer was in using technology as remote supports, not robots – and he knew Kasich would support that since the governor had declared Ohio as a “technology first” state. Martin visited Wood County Developmental Disabilities on Friday to see how technology is being put to use here. He heard from Chris Doerner, who is able to live by himself in an apartment – thanks to technology. “It helps me be safe at home,” Doerner told Martin and a roomful of people gathered to see the state director. In simple terms, Doerner has sensors in his door, and a two-way TV in his apartment, that allows his family and Wood Lane staff  to check in on him. “It’s neater than having somebody hanging around your house,” Martin asked. “Yup,” Doerner said. And when he wants privacy, “you can turn it off,” Martin asked. “Yup,” Doerner replied. That is just one example of using technology to allow someone to live more independently.  Yes, it also saves on personnel costs, but the primary goal is to improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities. In many cases, technology allows families to place their adult children in independent living situations with far less worry. Martin talked about other technology success stories. He told of a man whose son has autism. The son liked his days to be predictable, with events going in sequential order. The family realized that if their son was up and in the shower at 5:45 a.m., then he would have a good day, Martin said. So the dad installed a sensor, so he could tell if the shower was running at 5:45 a.m. If not, the dad knew to give his son a wakeup call. Technology is being used around the state to increase safety for people with developmental disabilities, while decreasing staff and family intervention….

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Paying for textbooks could put a dent in BGSU budget

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University could take a significant financial hit if a state budget proposal requiring colleges to pay for students’ textbooks becomes law. At a session of the BGSU Faculty Senate in late February President Mary Ellen Mazey said that even with the option of a new $300 annual textbook fee, the cost of providing textbooks would be significant. Mazey reported that the estimates for state aid are a 1-percent increase this year with a freeze in the second year of the biennial budget. She also expects a freeze on tuition and fees, other than the possibility of the new textbook fee. No one, she said, knows how much paying for textbooks would cost. “I’ve heard as low as $6 million and as high as $18 million. That could be a major, major budget cut if we go in that direction.” She noted that the governor had already instructed universities to find ways to control textbook costs. As a result the university has surveyed what it now does to contain those costs and has formed a textbook affordability committee to study how the university could do more. As reported to Faculty Senate late last year, it was clear the BGSU was already doing a lot to help reduce the cost of books for students. The bookstore offers a price comparison program. The library had purchased copies of texts for some of the most popular courses with the most expensive books and makes them available for use in the library. Students can also get books through OhioLink, a cooperative library system that connects higher education libraries in the state. Some faculty have also opted to use older editions of books, which are available for much less, and then augmenting those with other materials to keep current. Some have also put copies of the books on reserve at Jerome Library for students to use. The textbook committee, which is chaired by Ellen W Gorsevski, of the School of Media and Communication, is seeking more information about how much textbooks cost. She shared notes from the committee’s first meeting. Part of the problem is that texts, including bundled online course content, and other supplies tend to get lumped together. The $300 fee is far short of the estimates of at least $600 a semester. The committee is considering getting estimates of textbook costs for each major,…

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