Switch Access

Switches may provide a child with limited hand function a way to actively participate in a variety of activities. Finding the right type of switch and switch location can sometimes be challenging. Here are some things to consider:

Switch Properties
Switch size and shape
Activation force (Sensitivity of the switch)
Amount of travel (Distance from resting to activation of switch)
Feedback from switch (auditory, sensory etc)

Client/Student Abilities and Needs
When exploring switch access consider some of these factors:

1.  Can the client/student use movement that…
  • is voluntary both on and off - often the latter is the more difficult
  • is repeatable
  • is easy/energy efficient, and
  • reduces or eliminates minimal or accidental hits
2. Does the client/student require this switch mounted or angled?

3. Does the client/student understand cause and effect?

4. Is the client/student motivated to use the switch? What are they able to do with their switch?

The equipment below is from the TVCC Equipment Pool and shows just a few of the possible examples of low-tech augmentative communication equipment. Talk with your TVCC Occupational Therapist or Speech Language Pathologist about your interest in trying out assistive technology equipment.
Jelly Bean Switch
Lollipop Switch
Shaped Switch
(Dog, Frog, Pig)
Switch Tester*
* Used to ensure switches are in working order

Treadle Switch

Pal Pad Switch

Switch Toys
These toys can be used to allow children with limited hand function to play with a toy independently. Consult your Occupational Therapist to determine which type of switch and which location would work best (see above information on switches). Many of these toys move and make noise once a switch is activated.







Switch Latch and Timer:  By attaching a switch to this product, a client can hit his/her switch once and turn on a switch activated toy for a specified amount of time or until they hit their switch again to turn it off.

Powerlink:  With this product, clients/students can use their switch to turn on/off different types of electronic devices such as a mixer, tape recorder or other simple electronic device. 

See these links for great ideas on how kids can use switches to participate in a variety of activities:      
Leisure: http://www.pisp.ca/kits/index_jobs_participation.html


For more equipment options, or for ordering, consider contacting:

Switch Access to a Computer:
For ideas on using switches to access a computer, please check out these issues:

October 2007:  I can...surf!
October 2009: I can...use the computer!
June 2008: I can...keep in touch!
April 2010: I can...use my switch!
November 2011:  I can...move beyond cause and effect!
January 2012: I can...use two switches!