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Wireless – Mechanical – Electronic
Switch systems are a combination of Hardware used with appropriate software that scans through options on the computer screen allowing a user to trigger the switch when the option they wish to choose is highlighted on the screen.
Switch devices may replace the use of a keyboard and/or mouse.
Switches enable an individual who has reliable control of one or more movements to control any electronic device which is equipped with an appropriate switch interface/connection.
Careful switch selection and switch location are essential if the user is to make optimal use of his/her switch or switches.
There are a range of different ways in which a switch can be operated.
For example, the user may depress the switch continuously until the target item is highlighted on screen, or he/she may use the switch to activate an automatic scanning function, with a further switch selection at the moment when the target item is highlighted on screen.
Examples of switch devices
The following is just a small sample of the range of switches currently available to users, however it is beyond the scope of this website to provide a list of all of them. Items of particular interest are reviewed below.
| Wireless switch converter |
is included because of its generic nature. It can convert any mechanical switch with a standard 3.5 mm plug to wireless. The converter enables the user to operate devices from up to 25 feet away. They are especially useful for people who unable to freely move around.
Image source: Gateway
Red: The Big Switch - 127mm (5") in diameter.
Yellow: Jelly Bean Switch - a neat 64mm (2.5") diameter.
Green: Specs Switch - 36mm (1.4") diameter.
They are responsive across the entire surface; are easy to mount with the flange base; have a six-foot lead and 3.5mm jack; and provide audible feedback
| Mechanical |
Large Adjustable Pressure Switch. Some users are only be able to exert the lightest of pressure to press a switch. Others users prefer a firm pressure to cut down on unwanted presses.
Tash Grasp Switch
A single switch that can be held in the palm of the hand and operated by squeezing the rubber hand grip.
| Electronic |
Electronic or Sensor Switches are designed for people with limited movement, strength and endurance capabilities. They have sensors that can detect the slightest muscle movement. There is a huge range of these switches also know as Piezo Switches.
Example of Electronic Switch: The Fibre-Optic Eye-Blink Switch.
This switch works best when eye-blinking is the only movement the user performs. The sensor is capable of discriminating between random eye-blinks and purposeful controlled eye-blinks. A head strap is included and the device can also be used with other body parts in fiber-optic mode.
A low profile switch that only needs light pressure to activate. With a click to signal activation, it sits on a slightly angled platform for easier access.
Other Switch devices
Mouser 4 switch box.
Crick USB switch adapter
| AbelNet Powerlink. |
PowerLink is a mains control unit which allows switches to be used to control electrical devices, providing additional experiences. For example, a child can take part in a cookery session by using a switch to turn on and off a food mixer: lights and fans can be connected. This Ablenet control unit connects main appliances to a switch safely for easy activation.
More information about the Abelnet Powerlink (www.inclusive.co.uk) . . .
| RJ Cooper Super Switch |
The Super Switche's 5" diameter makes a good target for those that need it. It defaults to function as a mouseclick on any computer, through the cordless USB receiver. With the accompanying software, you can have the Super-Switch function as any keystroke or mouse button (the software always 'looks' for mouseclick.
More about super switch . . .
| RJ Cooper Switch Hopper|
SwitchHopper provides a place to plug switches into a computer. There are 3 switch inputs in SwitchHopper. When you plug a switch(es) into the jack(s), the switch(es) ‘become’ standard mouse-clicks and accompanying software, enables configuration of each button to 'be' any mouse-button event or keystroke.
More about SwitchHopper . . .
| Mini-Arm holding a Gumball Switch plugged into Cordless Switch Interface |
Image: RJ Cooper
| Accessing the web with Switch access system || Using a communicator with chin switch|
| Eye Blink switch |
The Eyeblink Switch uses an invisible infrared beam to detect eyeblinks, and discriminates between voluntary and involuntary blinks and only responds to voluntary blinks.
Image source: QED
More information about switches from Call Centre . . .
| Lipsync Sip and Puff mouse|
Lipsync is a Sip and Puff Mouse. A mouth operated joystick allows the user to move the cursor while sipping and puffing allows clicking and right-clicking.
| Mouth operated switch system || Papoo Tactile Switch|
ThePapooSwitch is an external switch different from the other switches available on the market thanks to a major innovation: its hypersensitivity.Tactile, it is sensitive to the approach of the human body and doesn’t require a direct physical contact to be activated, it just needs to be brushed. It fits the needs of people lacking strength and/or have reduced mobility. The PapooSwitch product flyer can be found here:PapooSwitch.pdf
More about the Papoo switch at Linkassistive . . .
Innovative new products
Tongue Drive System Allows Individuals with Disabilities to Operate Powered Wheelchairs and Computers.
| A new assistive technology developed by engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology could help individuals with severe disabilities lead more independent lives. The novel system allows individuals with disabilities to operate a computer, control a powered wheelchair and interact with their environments simply by moving their tongues. |
To operate the Tongue Drive system, potential users only need to be able to move their tongues. Attaching a small magnet, the size of a grain of rice, to an individual’s tongue by implantation, piercing or tissue adhesive allows tongue motion to direct the movement of a cursor across a computer screen or a powered wheelchair around a room.
(Information source: Georgia Research Tech News)
The Impulse Bluetooth Switch
| Impulse is specifically designed for people with significant physical limitations, allowing them to use any muscle surface (face, jaw, neck, arm, leg, etc.) to control their computer. |
The Impulse switch is particularly applicable for persons with degenerative conditions such as ALS, MS and MDA; as well as anyone with physical limitations or paralysis.
Image source: Inclusive Technology
It uses an electrode to measure electromyography (EMG)--or minute muscle contraction--allowing very small movements to control computer devices. Impulse accesses the computer using software installed and configured during the set-up process. The device gives the user the ability to control such tasks as typing and mouse movement by using any muscle the person chooses.
| The Impulse Switch|
Sip + Puff controller for the X-Box 360
The sip/puff mouth controller for the XBox\360® is similar to the Playstation 2® Controller, except it has an extra switch for the 'system file' operation, and has the 2 'Analog' trigger switches on the mouthpiece.
Image source: Quad Control (US supplier)
| Gus Scanning Cursor. An application which offers switch/scan users a way to move the cursor around the screen and perform mouse clicks. The program is designed for anyone who cannot move a mouse or press the mouse buttons. The program moves the cursor for you and provides an interface to activate the mouse buttons using 1 or 2 switches. If you don't have a switch, you can use the left mouse button as your switch. |
Full description of this product . . .
Switch Mounts and Plates
| IntegraMouse. Specially designed for users who are unable to operate a mouse with their hands. Tetraplegics would find this useful. It has all the functions of a standard mouse enabling the user to control all functions of the computer by lip movements. |
The IntegraMouse offers a sensitive sip and puff solution that controls the range of mouse clicks (left click, right click, double click, drag&drop). To operate, the user simply places the mouse between the lips and operates the cursor by applying pressure with the lips.
Requiring as little as 0.1 mm of movement or 10g of pressure to control the mouse, the IntegraMouse enables the computer to be accessible to users with physical disabilities and limitations. Mouse-clicks are triggered by the user slightly sipping and puffing into the mouth piece. More . . .
Using the IntegraMouse (YouTube video)
Switch Activated Toys
Many children with special needs are prevented from enjoying the toys and games their peers take for granted because their disability simply won’t allow them to operate the controls. Now parents of kids with physical problems which limit their motor skills and dexterity can make Christmas special with a new collection of specially adapted toys from Excitim Limited, called Dream-Products.
Using switches with young children, including children with physical and learning difficulties makes it easier for them to either use a battery operated toy or a computer. The three sample products in the pictures below can all be operated via a switch, as shown.
Press the switch to make Dunkster move it's beak and sing, as well as bopping along in time to the music, with wings flapping.
Pressing the switch makes Mrs Bear move her mouth and recite five nursery rhymes. Also moves as she recites.
Pressing the switch makes Sprout move it's mouth and sing, as well as bopping along in time to the music. A train horn blows as well.
|Almost any battery toy can be adapted for use with switches using a switch adapter. A copper disc with a lead and jack plug attached is placed between the battery and the contact in the battery compartment of the toy. The switch can be plugged directly into this lead (momentary use only) or the lead can connect with the switch via the Toy Control Box. Another more permanent and also more reliable solution, for those happy to use a soldering iron, is to locate the wire going from the toy’s switch (sometimes a little button on the paw), cut the wire as far from the battery compartment as possible and solder a MONO jack plug onto it. http://www.inclusive.co.uk/catalogue/acatalog/battery_switch_adaptors.html|| |
Toy Connection Box (Mouser). Image: AbilityNet
Connecting switches to a computer
| Mouse Switch Interface |
There are interfaces that connect through the mouse port, such as the Mouser or a special mouse or rollerball mouse that has switch socket built-in (e.g. Sam-trackball). You should note that not all switch-accessible software will allow mouse clicks for the switch action, so this solution will not work for all switch access. However, mouse switches can be especially useful in the situation where the support worker moves the mouse pointer and the child presses the switch to select. Alternatives you may have a child who can manage to move the pointer, but needs to hit a bigger target than a mouse button (i.e. a switch)
Switch connected to an RJ Cooper designed sam-trackball mouse
Using a switch connected to an RJ Cooper designed sam-trackball mouse
When you are using switches with a computer, the switches will usually work as though they are sending keyboard presses (usually 'space' or 'enter') or mouse clicks. Most switch software will allow you to use the standard keyboard, mouse to operate it, as well as switches. This can be very useful if you to try out the software connecting switches or to work alongside a child.
To connect a switch to use with the computer, you generally need a switch connecter, like the Joy Cable. This device is very easy to set up and use and is supported by most switch accessible software. It also allows you the option to attach two switches.
Joy Cable2 switch interface.
This device is recognised by windows as a USB joystick, so it can be used with any software that supports joystick input. For software that does not support joystick input, a Switch Driver is provided to allow the switches to control the keyboard or mouse. (Image and info: TechReady)
- Switches for gamers
- Broadened Horizons offer a muscle twitch switch for users with very impaired movement.
- The Sensory Company
- Joysticks for Gamers
- Suzuki Hayabusa switch game
- OneSwitch. A resource of fun ideas and 'assistive technology', aimed at moderate to severely learning/physically disabled people.
- Rompa - switch supplier
- CBeebies switch operated games (from the BBC)
Morse Code offers an alternative input method for switch users which eliminates the need for scanning, utilising instead sequential switch presses to replicate the codes used in Morse.
Using Morse Code
More accessible games (25 accessible game sites!)
Latest page update: made by alex-b
, Feb 14 2012, 11:24 AM EST
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