How do you set up a switch interface with the iPad?

For some of us, accessing the iPad isn’t all that easy. People with physical impairments may need to consider alternative access methods such as a stylus, key guard or an alternate keyboard to name a few. For people who have limited mobility in their hands, they might consider using a switch. But it isn’t a case of just plugging the switch to the into the iPad. The switch needs to be plugged into a switch interface.

The switch interface acts a bit like an interpreter. A simple press of the switch won’t be understood by the app, but the switch interface converts the press of the switch into something the app will understand. This is often a press of a key on a keyboard. For example, when you are using one switch for simple cause and effect apps, the switch interface usually sends the press of the space or enter key.

Now I know I’m getting a bit too technical and for some of us we just like to get in there and set it all up. We don’t need the technical explanations!! So I have prepared a short video that shows how you can set up a bluetooth switch interface with your iPad. In the video, you will see the APPlicator interface. The set up in the video will generally apply to most bluetooth switch interfaces for the iPad – although you may need to change the mode/settings on the interface itself to suit the different apps.

If you want to see more about Alternative Access Options for the iPad there is a full video available in our Spectronics Online webinar series.

For information on apps that are switch accessible you can look at the Switch Accessible Apps for the iPad list, compiled by Jane Farrall and Alex Dunn.

There is also great information about teaching switching skills to individuals in the Switch Progression Road Map, written by Ian Bean. This has been recently updated to include using switches with iPads.

And I also really like the handout from Linda Burkhart called Two Switches to Success: Access for Children with Severe Physical and/or Multiple Challenges. I attended this session at the Inclusive Learning technologies conference earlier this year and I learned a lot about moving someone on from one switch.

The mind boggles at all the new technologies available for providing alternative access to the iPad! I am already planning a new video snippet to show the Switch2Scan which provides comprehensive, scanning, switch access to all iPad functions – including Apps, music and media, iBooks and data entry. Stay tuned!

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About Charlene Cullen

Charlene has worked as a speech pathologist, supporting people with complex communication needs and learning disabilities for the past 15 years. She has worked in a variety of roles within the Disability Services of Western Australia, including Senior Speech Pathologist, Rural and Remote Resource Therapist and Regional Team Manager.

Charlene is a trained Key Word Sign (formerly Makaton) presenter, certified Hanen It Takes Two to Talk presenter and a member of the Apple Consultants Network. Charlene is also an official Proloquo2Go / Proloquo4Text trainer, and TBoxApps Trainer for Therapy Box.

Charlene has developed strong skills in and a passion for, the area of AAC and assistive technologies. She enjoys presenting workshops and providing consultancy services to support and educate parents, teachers and therapists in the use and application of inclusive technologies.

Charlene is a full time member of the Professional and Consultancy Services Team at Spectronics.

AGOSCI State Representative for Victoria (2012-present); Key Word Sign Victoria committee member (2012-present).

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