Switch Access for Android

Switch Access lets you interact with your Android device using one or more switches instead of the touch screen. Designed for people with motor impairments–  such as cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis –Switch Access is a series of indirect selection techniques specifically for assistive technology users.

Rapid access to digital devices and the Internet is something many people take for granted. The partial or total loss of function of a body part can seriously impede physical interactions with a touch screen or keyboard. For people with a motor impairment it can be difficult or even impossible to interact with a phone or tablet via standard methods.

Oliver collaborated with the Android Accessibility engineering team to design Switch Access for Android. At its core Switch Access allows a user to easily choose items from a selection set. The net effect is that apps, games, and the Internet are openly accessible to users with motor impairments.

Making Android accessible For Everyone

Android users (or a primary caregiver) can connect an external peripheral, known as an adaptive switch, to a tablet or smartphone. The adaptive switch features one or more hardware buttons. Using Switch Access for Android, a user can bypass the touchscreen to navigate and interact with the entire operating system simply by tapping a button.

10000017_a_blue2_-_img_1690_-_web.jpg

The Blue2 Bluetooth Switch is a typical adaptive switch peripheral.

If a user does not have access to an adaptive switch, perhaps due to the cost or availability of this kind of specialised hardware, that's no problem. A standard low-cost keyboard or cheap off-the-shelf peripheral can be used instead. By enabling Switch Access functionality through low-cost and readily-available hardware peripherals, individuals with low-income in developing countries can also benefit from the functionality. In turn, access to information, education, entertainment, and communication is more broadly available to individuals with limited economic resources and impaired motor ability.

Want to learn more? Watch the announcement at Google IO 2017 here.