March 29, 2020

GameTime and Adaptive Switch Technology

Make the Switch

Part of GameTime's commitment to inclusive play is to provide interactive play events that promote independence. For some people with limited upper body strength or low fine motor control, adaptive switches are an essential component of independent play. GameTime integrates Adaptive Switch technology into many of our playground products.

What Are Adaptive Switches?

An adaptive switch is an access device that allows people with movement-limiting disabilities to use technology and operate electronic devices. Instead of the person performing complex actions such as turning a knob, adaptive switches will offer easier movement solutions, such as pressing a button.

Adaptive switches for special needs provide an interface between the technology and the person with the disability. They modify the normal switch to give the person access, and they’re designed to suit the person’s unique ability. When children with disabilities use such switches, they can play more independently and participate actively with their peers.

Adaptive Switch Technology and GameTime Products

On many of our products, such as the GTSensors® for panels, ramps, and climbers, GameTime integrated adaptive switch technology so people can use the switch of their choice to play more independently. In the case of our auditory sensory panels, children and adults can activate sounds, songs, and musical instruments alongside their peers.

Different Types of Adaptive Switches 

Adaptive switches may be categorized by the way they’re used, their unique features, the response required to create the switch action and the kind of assistance they provide. Some of the categories of adaptive switches and assistive technology available today include the following:
  • Hand, finger, and body switches: A variety of switches that allow people with limited movement to access devices with the slightest movement of a finger or wrist. Another device in this category is the joystick. It can be mounted on the tip of an armrest. Joysticks may be used to activate more than one type of device by moving the joystick in different directions. The same joystick may be programmed to activate a phone, tablet, TV or array of Bluetooth-enabled devices.
  • Light switches: Optical switches are activated by the eyes’ movement. The switch is open until the user blinks. As soon as the user blinks, it interrupts an infrared beam, and the switch is closed.
  • Sound switches: Sound-activated switches allow people with movement limitations to use their voice or any distinct sound to operate the switch. Simply saying “ahhh” can make the switch perform the desired action.
  • Pillow switches: Pillow switches usually have a soft foam that serves as the activation surface. When the soft surface is pressed, it gives tactile feedback and an audible click. The switch may be activated by the head, shoulders, arms or hands.
  • Plate switches: Plate switches are large button switches that are suitable for people who can’t use the small buttons and controls on most adapted devices. They usually have a very large button that is ergonomically designed to respond to the gentlest touch.
  • Saucer switches: Saucer switches are ability switches that are specially designed for those who are unable to control or sustain the hand or wrist movements necessary to activate traditional plate switches. Saucer switches are activated with just a light touch and some can be angled to accommodate varying abilities.
  • Mouth, sip and puff switches: These switches are equipped with a mouthpiece that allows the user to issue commands by a sip or a puff. The negative pressure produced by a sip and the positive pressure created by a puff causes the switch to come on or go off.
  • Wheelchair and bedside switches: These switches are fitted to the wheelchair’s armrest or attached to the user’s bed. Some switches are activated by the fingers, while others are activated by shoulder movement, neck motion, sound or vibration.

If you are interested in adding adaptive switch technology to your playground, contact the GameTime Inclusive Play Champion in your neighborhood.