What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology is any kind of technology and/or tool that can be used to enhance the functional independence of a person with a disability. Often, for people with disabilities, accomplishing daily tasks such as communicating with others, going to school or work, or participating in activities can be a challenge. Assistive Technology (AT) devices are tools to help overcome those challenges and enable people living with disabilities to enhance and have access to a quality of life, that may otherwise not be known, and lead more independent lives.

The mission of this blog is to serve as a voice of a constant researcher in the field of educational and assistive technologies so that the best products, strategies and services may be located easily, in hopes that they will then be delivered, taught and used to better the lives of people with disabilities.


Switch Online (and iOS) Activities

Online (and iOS) Activities to use with Switch Access
(iPad information at the bottom of this posting, along with computer software links.)
  • Better Living through Technology has several programs that they direct you to designed for switch use. Some you are able to download onto tour computer, others are for use right on the internet.
  • Boohbah Activities allows you to see some great visuals with the click of a mouse (or a switch). Many different Flash activities to explore and have fun with,. This is cause and effect fun!
  • Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit 21 offers many Flash programs that you can download to your computer to use. These are great fun. Be sure to preview as some people are not comfortable with.   
  • CBeebies by Inclusive Technology and CBBC, who have combined their efforts in this project to give switch users the chance to learn about money and prices.It also uses early math terms such as"cheapest"and "most expensive". Most instructions are read out clearly,though non-readers will need a bit of help. Play with one or two switches as well as standard access methods.
  • HelpKidzLearn has sections with stories, games, creative fun such as puzzles and paint, all which can be used with switch access!Many of these activities are not timed, use sound and visual information and have other features that make them appropriate for individuals with disabilities building access abilities. Each activity includes recommendations for products sold by Inclusive Technologies that may be of interest.
  • Flower Garden let's you build your own garden with the click of a mouse, touchscreen or switch (but you will want to move it around.)
  • Hiya allows you to download or play their games online. This is a nice feature. There are various programs available for a variety of skill focuses from early start and beyond.
  • Ian Bean is providing online (or downloadable) cause and effect games for PC computers. The activities are ‘Space Walk’, ‘Meet the aliens’, ‘Doorstep Ding Dong’ and ‘React: Shapes’. Keep checking back for more. Also be sure to check out his Free Downloads of Switch and Touchscreen Activities!!! Ian has a lovely collection of 85  musical slideshows.  They each have a variety of switch options and can also be run from a USB drive.
  • Inclusive Technology offers a very rich site. This will link you to free downloads worth exploring.
  • Jackson Pollock allows users to design great abstract art without complications. For a touchscreen this would be awesome. To learn the mouse- great, for switches- maybe not the best but what's wrong with using a little movement with a switch for some?
  • Judy Lynn offers software for trial. Their software is based on developing switch skills.
  • KneeBouncers - Perfect! Great fun for our little ones.  A must explore site!
  • Moving Targets has a suite of Flash applications to use with; mouse, trackerball, touch screen or interactive whiteboard.
  • NanoGames offers free Accessible Computer Games in various categories: Single Switch, Low Vision, Simple, Senior, and even Speech Recognition!
  • OneSwitch is a resource of fun ideas aimed at moderate to severely learning/physically disabled people.
  • Papunet Games is a free website that contains games in English as well as Finnish and Swedish. The games are designed with AAC device users or students who use computers with alternative access in mind. They range from very easy to more challenging and can all be played with a mouse or switch.
  • Priory Woods School provides Switch videos and slide shows set to music, which can be controlled by a range of common assistive access devices. They are designed to help children understand and generalize cause and effect (the action / reaction bond), one of the foundation stones for early learning. All of the videos can be played online or downloaded for use on a PC or Macintosh computer. And now, their revamped videos!
  • RJ Cooper has a couple of cause and effect programs worth exploring.
  • SENICT Software is a website dedicated to providing quality teaching activities and games for children with a special educational needs. Their activities are designed to be accessible to everyone including those who access the computer with assistive technology such as switches, touch-screens, mouse and alternative pointing devices including eye gaze.
  • Sen Software - starts with allowing the user to just watch then builds to using a specific amount of switch clicks to build a picture.
  • Shiny Learning offers 6 free games designed to be used with a switch, keyboard or mouse. They can be played on-line or downloaded right to the computer, which ever works best for you and your student. To play these games you need the Adobe Flash Player installed on your computer. These are great, simple cause and effect games.
  • Specialbites has free switch games to download, switch games to play online and tons of video tutorials to help you make switch games.
  • Switch Music lets a user choose a music video (all appropriate) through a grid of videos. What kid wouldn't find this rewarding? Shoot, I do!
  • Tar Heel Reader has a collection of free, easy-to-read, and accessible books on a wide range of topics. Each book can be speech enabled and accessed using multiple interfaces, including touch screens, the IntelliKeys with custom overlays, and 1 to 3 switches. You may write your own books using pictures from the huge collection at Flickr or pictures you upload. Now available to use on the iPad also.  You get much more if you pay for the subscription.
  • Up To Ten has some nice online coloring pages for switch use.

Here's a couple of suggestions for teens and switch use:

YouTube Access
Here are a couple of switch accessible YouTube sites reported to work well:  
These allow you to put in the url for youtube videos then set a specific amount of time for the video to play.  Student can use a switch to make it come on again.

Activities Using Switch Operated Devices
  • Switch access to the Internet? You bet. Better Living through Techology explains how to set up your switch Interface to access the Internet through the use of one or two switches.

Sounds to Record

Kids love sounds! This is just a quick reminder that it doesn't always have to be your voice on the switch. There are many sites on-line that are available for free. This is just one such site:

Partners in Rhyme offers human sounds such as screams, moaning, burping... oh, what fun we could have!

Further Resources to Explore
  • Linda Burkhart provides great information on switch activated battery operated toys.
  • Let's Play! Project provides a great Word resource guide full of equipment and ideas for using switches with the young child.
Companies who sell Switches, Toys, and Environmental Controls

iPad and Switches
The iPad is a great tool for teaching Cause and Effect. It is rich with apps that allow you to touch and get a reaction. Using a switch with the iPad is a little different in that you need tools and programs that will allow you to use a switch with it. They are limited.

Switch Software
Are you interested in having more controls? Switch software would be a good way to go.  
  • Choose It! Maker: allows you to create your own choice-making activities tailored to  your students' needs. The program is user-friendly and will allow you to help switch users learn to scan.
  • Clicker 6: a literacy tool which is designed for supporting students' learning to read and write. It can be personalized for each student to build independence.
  • NumberShark is a program for improving number skills covering all 4 number operations and can be personalized. You can individualize the activity by varying the speed of the games. Records can be kept and printed out.
  • Switch It! Jigsaw Maker: create online jigsaws made from images. Great to use photographs of the people in your life. Press the switch to complete the puzzle.
  • Switch It! Maker 2 enables the user to create switch-accessible slideshows and/or stories and allows the user to add text which is a really useful feature. We use this program in so many ways from showing the steps in a cookery lesson to documenting a day trip. It is a must-have!
  • Switch It! Series is a brilliant set of programs which are really useful for language development. The activities are motivating and great fun. They have earned a place in probably every classroom in our school. They cover lots of useful themes such as hygiene, people who help us, weather and more. Check them out.
  • WordShark teaches reading and spelling through a series of motivating games. It can be tailored to the needs of individual students' needs. It is suitable for all ages. It has a great record-keeping feature.

Try these sites for more:

updated and links checked on 2/2015