Everyone has a smartphone these days. But what about people who are differently abled, or in some other way prevented from interacting with their smartphone screens? For such users there is the Switch Access feature. It lets you interact with your Android device using a switch instead of the screen.
Turning on Switch Access
Open Settings on your phone and scroll down until you get to the accessibility option. This menu is specifically designed to make the phone more adaptive in terms of its user interface. If you are having trouble finding the option, type “Accessibility” into the search bar at the top to locate the feature.
Scroll down until you see the “Switch Access” option and click on it.
You will see an empty page with the option to use the Switch Access service and a brief explanation of its function.
Turn ON Switch Access.
A permissions page will appear detailing the ways in which Switch Access will gather data from your typing habits. Click on the OK button to accept the arrangement.
Finally, select whether you will be connecting the switch via a USB connection or using Bluetooth. You have the option to make use of different types of Switch arrangements. Each of these arrangements offers different advantages in terms of accessibility:
- Auto Scan/ Linear Scanning: The controller moves from one item to the next on the screen. You can select an item by pressing the switch again.
- Step Scan/ Row-Column Scanning: This option is for the times you are using two or more switches. One switch is used to navigate the screen while the other is used to select items.
- Group Selection: With two or more switches, you can select entire groups of items at once. It is the fastest method of screen navigation via a switch.
Next, choose the scanning speed at which you want the highlighter to move between onscreen items. You can choose from the available options or customize the speed of movement. The program will offer a brief tutorial on using the switch via an entertaining game of Tic-Tc-Toe, and you are good to go.
How It Works
The tool uses the phone’s AI to scan the items that are visible on your SmartScreen. The AI then highlights the icon for each item in turn, until you press select on the icon that you wish to interact with.
There are three main types of switches you can use:
A keystroke signal is sent to your Android device in response to activating the switch. A number of manufacturers sell these devices, such as RJ Cooper and Tecla. The switch is connected to your Android device using USB or Bluetooth.
A standard USB or Bluetooth keyboard can be used as a switch device, where the keys on the board are assigned a specific action for screen navigation.
Buttons on Your Device
The built-in buttons at the sides of your Android device can also be used as switches by assigning them an action. To activate this option, you need to access the device as a developer.
With the help of Switch Access, even users with some form of dexterity impairment can make use of their smartphones like regular users. With the variety of Switch device options available, there is a device available for every type of impairment that a user may suffer from.
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