Saturday, March 29, 2014

Using Bluetooth to Access the iPad via a Switch

There are several switch interfaces to use to access the iPad with a switch, but I am going to focus on the Blue2 switch interface from AbleNet, because that is the one that we have in the technology room at school. Other suppliers that sell switch interfaces include RJ Cooper and Inclusive Technologies. A switch interface uses bluetooth technology, which is built into the iPad, to wirelessly use a switch to access the iPad. This is convenient for users who do not have the fine motor ability to isolate their touch on the exact area of the iPad to select their choice.  This method only works with switch enabled apps, a few of which I have linked below. The Blue2 interface uses the scanning function that is also used for the VoiceOver accessibility function on the iPad, the user can select the highlighted choice using a switch.

Here is what the Blue2 switch interface looks like:
bluetooth wireless switch for disabled

To use a switch to access an app, you must set up the Blue2 and then open the app.  Follow these steps to get started:

  • Turn Blue2 on
  • Go to Settings>Bluetooth on the iPad.  
  • Click on the Blue2 option when it comes up.
  • Make sure that Mode 5 is selected on the Blue2 
  • Connect your own switch(es) or use the built in switch(es). 

Set up the app by tapping play and then setting the switch options, then tap the X

Users press the switch to initiate the action at the right moment, like jumping over obstacles:

To use SoundingBoard, a communication app from AbleNet, follow the steps above and then wait for the iPad to start scanning the choices.  Select the desired board or phrase when it is highlighted.  You can set timing options on SoundingBoard under settings.

Settings:                              Board List:                 Speech choices:

Switch enabled apps:

 Memory Pairs

ChooseIt! Maker

Smarty Pants


There are many more. Click on the following links for a list of switch accessible apps apps:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

AT - Using Head Movements to Access the iPad

Picture from:

iOS 7 has a new feature that allows users to use head movements to operate the iPad.  It is under the accessibility settings (go to Settings > Accessibility > Switch Control).  This is a really nice feature for people who cannot access the iPad with their hands or their voice. It uses scanning technology, when the desired app or choice is highlighted you use your switch control settings to select the choice.  And it even works on some apps that are not "switch accessible".

You can set up switch control to choose from 4 switches - turning head left and turning head right (uses the internal camera), an external Bluetooth switch, or touching anywhere on the screen (for those who cannot isolate and target one spot).  Note: using the full screen makes it hard to turn off switch control with touch.  If this happens turn on Siri request it to activate assistive touch.  This turns off switch control. 

Each of these methods can be set up to do a variety of actions, such as select (tap), go to Home screen, increasing or decreasing volume, activating Siri, etc.  All of these options are listed under each switch set-up in the Settings app. 

Another feature is Point Scanning which is using cross hairs to pick a specific screen location. A popup menu appears at the pinpointed location for more choices.  One drawback, the iPad has to be positioned carefully to ensure the camera can see your face, or you will get a message at the top of the screen saying that it cannot.  Just adjust the angle a bit and it should work. Mounting or having a stand to keep it steady is recommended.

For more information go here.