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Most battery powered, electrical and electronic household devices have small buttons, switches or dials that are inaccessible to some people with physical disabilities. Adaptive switches are designed to provide an alternate means of access to these devices. In their simplest application these switches are used to control just the on and off functions of devices such as lights, radios, tape recorders and battery toys. In more sophisticated applications, adaptive switches can be used to adjust volume or select channels on audio and video equipment, operate a telephone or access a computer. In all of these applications the switch must be used either with a device that has been adapted for switch access or in conjunction with an interface that links the switch to a non-adapted device.

Plate Switches

  • Most common switch type
  • Activated with downward pressure
  • Amount of pressure to activate varies across products
  • Feedback (click, movement, light, vibration) varies
  • Can be used with any body part
  • Some are available in cordless versions
  • Available in many sizes

Enabling Devices 
Plate Switch

Specs & Big Red


Enabling Devices
Cordless Saucer Switch

Wobble Switches
  • Activated by swiping or gross body movements, then returns to original position when released
  • Can be mounted on tabletops or wheelchairs
  • Feedback (click) on some switches
  • Try with children who have limited motor control

Enabling Devices
 Wobble Switch

Leaf Switch


Enabling Devices
Ultimate Switch 

Leaf Switch

Pull Switches
  • Activated when string or attached object is pulled
  • Auditory feedback on some switches
  • Switch should be mounted
  • Try with people who have minimal strength and movement

Enabling Devices
String Switch

String Switch
Pneumatic Switches
  • Activated through change in air pressure
  • Grip, sip, puff, squeeze, required to activate switch
  • Amount of pressure required can be adjusted
  • Try grip switches with children who have limited motor control or movement
  • Sip & puff used when other switches are not viable

Enabling Devices 
Sip & puff

Enabling Devices 
Grip & puff

Other Switch Types
  • Pinch switches, voice-activated switches, motion-sensitive switches, mercury (tilt) switches, small movement switches (twitch switches, eye-blink switches, flexion switches, thumb switches, finger tip switches, sensor switches), multi-sensory switches, joysticks

Don Johnston
Sensor Switch

Enabling Devices
Eye-Blink Switch

Enabling Devices
Pinch Switch

Enabling Devices

Finger Tip Switch

118 Ideas for using a Single Message Voice Output

Adapted Leisure

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Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities
1275 Lakeside Avenue East
Cleveland, Ohio 44114-1129
PHONE: (216)241-8230 - FAX: (216)861-0253