From the January 2010 issue of TechnoTalk: The TASC Newsletter
Finding a range of good quality activities for switch users to participate in can be a challenge as many switch programs, games and toys can be very expensive. Research evidence suggests that to engage switch users and to develop switch skills, a multisensory approach is best – that is offering the switch user a range of activities with visuals, sound, movement and touch (Moir, 2008).
With the exception of the Switch Adapted toy section (below) all of the activities listed are computer-based and as a result, require a computer, a switch and some sort of switch interface.
A switch interface is essentially anything that allows a switch to be plugged into a computer.
This list is not a collection of all the available switch accessible programs, but is intended to be a collection of our favorite ones that are free or low cost at the time of publishing.
For a regularly updated list of many more switch accessible software and websites, please see Jane Farrall’s bookmarks on delicious http://delicious.com/Jane_Farrall. Jane is the AAC Support Services Manager at Spectronics, (assistive technology supplier).
The following resources have been selected with a broad range of abilities in mind, so whether you know someone who is only just developing switch skills, or if you are a master of switch access, hopefully there will be something worthwhile in this list.
Switch Adapted Toys
A battery interrupter can be used to make some standard battery toys switch accessible. For more information see www.tecsol.com.au/BCI.htm.
If you are an amateur electronics enthusiast and you are looking for information on how to switch adapt your own toys, visit www.oneswitch.org.uk and look in the DIY section or look at www.ace-centre.org.uk and go to the resources > Adapting toys for switch use.
To assist switch users in finding activities that are appropriate for their skill levels, the activities below have been categorized into 3 stages, according to the hierarchy of switch skill development (Jones & King, 2008):
1. Untimed single switch use – press and release the switch to result in an outcome (cause and effect).
2. Timed single switch use – time press and release of the switch to result in the desired outcome.
3. Switch scanning – single, switch automatic scanning or two-switch step scanning.
(This allows switch users to choose from a series of cells or boxes by pressing the switch when their selection is highlighted).
While switch users who are developing their skills will benefit from moving through each stage, there may be a number of activities in each category that interest people with a range of abilities.
Untimed Single Switch Use
(Cause and Effect) including single and multiple press activities
• Inclusive Technologies free site: www.helpkidzlearn.com/index.html
• Online dice: www.levelgam es.net/dice.php (enables participation in board games)
• SEN Switcher: www.northerngrid.org/ngflwebsite/sen/Menu-L.htm
• Single Switch Media Player: www.deviantart.com/download/24443302/SSMP_Gadget.zip
• Priory Woods: http://www.priorywoods.middlesbrough.sch.uk Go to “Resources” (games and educational activities for school-aged switch users with a range of cognitive abilities)
• Baby Smash: www.hanselman.com/babysmash/ (designed to allow babies to “play” on a computer without danger of deletion or damage)
• Hi Yah: www.hiyah.net (huge collection of activities accessible by using a spacebar press or switch.
• Every Day Skills and Sense Factory: www.deafblindonline.org.uk/software.html#es (you create switch accessible sequences of photos or videos or use some other people have created)
• Switch Accessible eBook Reader: www.tarheelreader.org
Timed Switch Use
• OneSwitch: www.oneswitch.org.uk
• BBC Children’s switch accessible games: www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/grownups/about/specialneeds/physical_cbeebies.shtml
• Shiny Learning: www.shinylearning.co.uk/freegames/index.shtml
• Nanogames: http://www.nanogames.com/
• SEN Switcher: (see above)designed for the acquisition of switch skills and can be enjoyed by switch users from a very broad range of ages and abilities.
• RJ Cooper games: http://www.rjcooper.com/
• Inclusive Technologies free site: (see above)
• Judy Lynn: www.judylynn.com/downloads.htm
Single Switch Scanning
• Nanogames: (see above)
• Able Gamers Blog: www.ablegamers.com/ (for more advanced switch users)
• Hotspots: www.oatsoft.org/Software/hotspots (will enable switch scanning on games that normally require full mouse movement)
• Inclusive Technology website: www.inclusive.co.uk/downloads/downloads.shtml (Talking Faces and Inclusive CD Player are free downloads)
Two-Switch Step Scanning
• Edmark Software free demos: www.riverdeep.net/products/downloads/free_downloads.jhtml (Bailey’s Book House, Thinkin Things, & Sammy’s Science House)
• The Drawing Activities: http://papunet.net/games/drawing_exercises/
Jones, T. & King, J. (2008). Switching to Success: Stages in Switch Development. Retrieved September 10, 2009 from www.liberator.co.uk/js/fontis/tiny_mce/plugins/filemanager/files/liberator_uk/STAGES%20IN%20SWITCH%20DEVELOPMENT.pdf
Moir, L. (2008). Promoting Switching Skills in Children with Complex Needs. Retrieved September 21, 2009 from www.e-bility.com/arataconf08/papers/computer_based_solutions/MOIR_Lois_paper.doc