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An Introduction to Switches, Switch-Activated Software and How It All Works

By Larson, Mark; Closing the Gap, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 13-15
Publication Date: October/November 2008

Article discusses the use of switches to enable computer access for people with limited motor skills. The simple mechanics of an on-off switch is explained, and its connection to a computer via an interface is outlined. Interface models discussed include the Don Johnston Switch Interface Pro 5.0, which allows multiple switches to be connected at a time; the Stealth Switch AT-5 and AT-10, which allow up to 10 switches and remember the settings for each program the user runs; the QuizWorks Wireless Switch Interface, which allows the user wireless connection to the computer from a distance; and the IntelliKeys keyboard which, as it has two jacks, can be programmed as a switch interface. Switch software discussed are cause-and-effect software, which enables an unskilled user to use a computer for switch training and simple play; and scanning software, where the computer scans through a series of choices to be selected by the user by pressing the switch, enabling simple activities such as laying a puzzle, or complex tasks such as writing a story a letter at a time. The advantages of adding multiple switches to the interface are also discussed, including two-directional scanning and the ability to play an interactive game with two switch users. A resource list of products, including games, is appended.

Assistive Products Discussed: SWITCH INTERFACE PRO
Published by: Closing the Gap, Inc.   (Website:

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