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Many toys, computers and tablets, software programs and small appliances can now be controlled using a variety of switches adapted for different methods of activation. Detailed explanations of the different switches available can be found at



Switches can be fixed in position in a number of ways. A variety of switch mounts can be found at



It's vital that you have taken some time to understand how pupils might learn about how switches work and the effects they can create through using them. 


Linda Burkhart's 'Steppingstones to switch access can be found here:


The switch progression road map was created by by Ian Bean 20 years ago and has recently be updated. For a comprehensive theoretical grounding and suggested route of progression for switch users, please consult the documents below.

Switch-adapted toys

An adapted toy can be activated with a switch. Adaptive switches let children with disabilities interact with electronics with a button press, eye blink, mouth puff or other motion. The user can use their switch to tell the toy to move, make sounds or flash lights.  

Example of a switch-adapted toy: Freddie Fish Bubble Machine

Using switches with 3-pin plugged appliances


Devices such as the Powerlink 4 allows switch users to control up to two electrical appliances with single switches. Unique modes of control allow you to define exactly how and for how long appliances will be turned on. The Powerlink will accept any single switch including a wireless switch.


PowerLink 4

Use with a Bigmack


A Bigmack is a simple-to-use recording device with 'voice output'. It’s easy to record speech, music or any sound into the BIGmack. The Bigmack can be plugged into other devices to be used as a switch to operate them too using an extension cable. Whichever use you are hoping to make of it, if the Bigmack's design means that someone cannot access the built-in switch, other switches can be plugged into the Bigmack in order to activate it.  

How to use a BIGmack

Using a LittleMack or BigMack With a Toy

Turning an iPad into a switch


As well as being able to attach switches to an iPad (e.g. using the Ablenet Hook+ iOS switch interface ), it is also possible to programme the screen to act as a single use switch with a variety of outcomes (recipes).  See Stefanie Olson's instructional video below.

How to turn your iPad screen into a single switch

Switch driver software for computers


Switches can be plugged into computers using an interface (e.g. a USB dongle) in order to perform certain functions (e.g. mouse clicks, keyboard strokes etc.) This requires software such as the free Switch Driver 


You can also download the ACE centre's Gridwiz app to use alongside Grid 3 software in order to create your own boards for pupils to practise their switch skills on.



Early switch skills for computer access and communication (from EdTech)

A step-by-step guide to introducing and developing switch skills for students who need alternative computer access. This webinar takes a look at alternative access to computers and communication aids using switches. It will provide a step-by-step guide, starting with the assessment process, moving on to early switch skills such as developing an awareness of cause and effect. It will explore a range of switch accessible software, websites and activities.

Page updated on 27/4/21 by CGough