What is switch access?

22 May 2017

For those who have little or no manual dexterity and fine motor skills switch access is an alternative to using a keyboard.

What is a switch? Essentially it is like using a light switch. It is just an “on/off” device that toggles between those two actions. Switches can be simple round plastic coloured discs and can be either wired or wireless.

What is important is there needs to be an interface between the switch and the computer. A programmable switch box such as Crick’s USB Switch Box (£99) is one such device. The Switch Box allows keys on a keyboard such as the space bar and enter keys to be programmed to work as a switch.

Some physical disabilities require a method of keeping the device in place such as a felt-back board which switches can be velcro'd to like the Maxcess Tray. Clamps that fix to tables and wheelchairs may also be needed.

Having a reliable means of access is important for switch users. Also it is important to consider the eye-level view of the user - to see what they see. Lastly, there needs to be good posture that works in the best way for the condition of the user