Ohio one of first states to experiment with video monitoring for people with developmental disabilities

WOODMERE, Ohio -- Remember your first apartment?

It was great to finally be out on your own even if you still had to do the dishes.

Twenty-year-old Samuel Zurenski loves being independent. Sometimes he needs a little help due to developmental disabilities.

That help comes from a high-tech monitoring system from a company that's based 90 miles away: Wynn-Reeth of Green Spring, Ohio.

By pressing a button on the screen or on a remote, Samuel can instantly be connected with a personal care monitor who can do everything from read a food label to call for help.
Samuel said having that available gives both him and his family added peace of mind.

“It makes me feel more safe knowing that I can press a button and somebody would pop on the screen and talk to me and send police over or an ambulance."

The company who works with Samuel said, depending on the type of system, it can work with people of many different needs.

But the system isn't a Big Brother type of thing; it's only on when you call it.

“Letting them be more independent. I kind of liken it to being a fly on the wall; we'll be there in case something happens but the rest of the time let him do his thing and live his life the way he chooses," said Ken Smith with Wynn-Reeth told Fox 8.

Currently there are 170 people with developmental disabilities using this type of system.

The state has been looking at increasing the number of monitors to 600.

Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities director John Martin said it will save the state money and make people with disabilities happier.

“It's more positive in terms of the economics, in terms of the quality of life; the only catch is we want to make sure we're evaluating every situation, that we're tailoring it to every person's needs and realize it's not a solution for everybody," Martin said.

So far it has been the best solution for Samuel. He's only had to use the service once for a minor incident.

But overall it's allowed him to live his life on his own terms.

“I’m independent; I get to do what I want," Samuel said.

The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities is working to get a grant for half a million dollars in this year's state budget to expand the video monitoring program.

If you’re interested in finding out more you can contact the Department of Developmental Disabilities office in your county. Here is a link to their website.