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You are here: Home > Assistive Technology > AT ClassificationsPhysical Impairment > Switch Input Systems

Switch Input Systems

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. Below are some examples of switch devices.

Wireless Switches
Source for all graphics below: (http://www.inclusive.co.uk/catalogue/index.html)

Wireless Switch Converter

This device is included at the start of this section because of its generic nature. It can convert any mechanical switch with a standard 3.5 mm plug to wireless. The Wireless Switch 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.

Mechanical Switches

Mechanical Switches

Model A: The Big Switch - 127mm (5") in diameter.
Model B: Jelly Bean Switch - a neat 64mm (2.5") diameter.
Model C: 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

Large Adjustable Pressure Switch

Large Adjustable Pressure Switches

Model D: Large Adjustable Pressure Switches
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

Tash Grasp Switch

Model E: Tash Grasp Switch. A single switch that can be held in the palm of the hand and operated by squeezing the rubber hand grip.

Plate Switch

Plate Switch

Model F: The Plate Switch. 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.

Electronic Switches

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.

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.

There are a large range of Electronic switches available to users, it is beyond the scope of this website to provide a list of all of them.

Using Morse Code

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.

Technological Requirements :

These are minimal for mechanical devices. The Electronic Fibre-Optic Eye-Blink and SmartNav systems require Windows 2000 or Windows XP.

Cost:

Model A €35: B €35: C €35: D €35: E €100: F €35: The Wireless Switch Converter Kit costs approximately €160. The Electronic Fibre-Optic Eye-Blink Switch costs approximately €600. The cost of the SmartNav system costs approximately €260.

Accessible Games.