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Skip to 0 minutes and 1 secondPETER HEUMADER: Hi. My name is Peter Heumader. In this step I am going to show you a special input method on mobile devices for people with physical disabilities that are not able to operate a touch screen in the traditional way. It is called switch access scanning. As the name implies, mobile devices can be controlled with single switches. These switches are either real hardware switches that can be pressed by the users, the touchscreen itself, or even gestures-- like the turning of the head-- can be used as a switch to trigger an action on the mobile device.

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 secondsWhen switch access scanning is enabled and active, the focus-- which is shown to the user with a moving rectangle-- of the application moves automatically in a predefined order and predefined timespan from one control element to the next. In this case, it moves from one group of applications to the next. Whenever the user activates a switch the currently focused element is triggered. The pressing of the switch is indicated when the current set is highlighted in blue. Now we're inside the group, and using an another time the switch, we were able to open the app. By this very complex user interfaces can be operated with a single switch alone.

Skip to 1 minute and 24 secondsDouble tapping the switch within a predefined timespan enables the menu that allows users to press the Home button, to make gestures, and to change the settings directly. There is even another scanning mode which is called the point mode. Within this mode, the user is able to perform a touch on an element in another way. First, the user has to specify the row x-coordinate of the touch he wants to perform, using his switch. After that, the fine selection of the x-coordinate is done. The same thing is done with the y-coordinate to perform a touch after the second selection. By this, even applications that are not conformed to accessibility standards can be operated with only one switch.

Switch Access Scanning

Switch Access Scanning is a way of interacting with a computer that requires considerable concentration and physical control. However, those individuals who have certain physical disabilities and dexterity difficulties may depend on this input method.

Switch access scanning tends to be used by those who are not able to operate a touch screen in the traditional way, but are still able to operate a mobile device.

People can use gestures, like the turning of the head, or a hardware bluetooth switch that they can press or even the whole touchscreen can act as a single switch.

The focus of the application moves automatically from one element of the user interface to the next element. When the user wants to perform an action on the element, the switch is pressed and the action is performed.

If you’d like to experience onscreen scanning, try this Doorway Online ‘Find the Pairs’ game using your keyboard, mouse or switch access. Toggle on the scanning, single switch and set the speed. * Note: this is a children’s picture memory game developed using Adobe Flash and is therefore not screen reader accessible.*

Did you find it easy or quite frustrating?


© This video is created by Johannes Kepler University Linz and licensed under CC-BY BY 4.0 International Licence. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.

© This text is a derivative of a work created by Johannes Kepler Universität Linz and Technische Universität Dresden, and licensed under CC-BY BY 4.0 International Licence adapted and used by the University of Southampton. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.

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This video is from the free online course:

Digital Accessibility: Enabling Participation in the Information Society

University of Southampton