Navigating with a Switch on my Android Smartphone using SWITCH ACCESS

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Navigating with a Switch on my Android Smartphone using SWITCH ACCESS

In the accessibility settings, Android has a feature that allows you to navigate your smartphone or tablet with a switch or a keyboard.

In fact, a person with motor difficulty can have trouble navigating on their smartphone by touch. Different types of switches can be used as alternatives to this problem.

The navigation is done by block (group of icons or functions) where you navigate automatically or manually by tapping on the switch.

In automatic mode, you only need one switch, but in manual mode, you need at least two switches; the first one to select “next” and the second one to select “enter”.

The configuration is not easy and may take a bit of time to refine the settings for a better experience.

To do this, go to:

Settings – Accessibility – Switch Access – Settings

Most Android smartphones have a “micro USB” port. There are multiple ways of connecting a switch to the Android device. For example: with the help of a micro USB to female USB cable, you can connect a “swift” key or a “simple switch” box where it is possible to connect multiple switches.

Even if most smartphones and tablets have this feature, check if “Switch Access” appears in your accessibility settings.

Learn how to use S-Voice

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Learn how to use S-Voice

What is S-Voice?

It is a voice recognition application which answers your questions and requests.

How to access it

There are two ways to do this. The first way is to press the “Home” button on your device two times, when the “beep” sounds, you can make your request. The other way is to tap the “S-Voice” icon and access the application directly.


« Appointment tomorrow at 2PM at the dentist. »

« Here is your appointment: Dentist on 20 February 2017 at 2PM.
Would you like me to write in it your calendar? »

« Yes. »

« I will register your appointment. »


Long speeches should be avoided when using “S-Voice”. You have to use keywords and be specific. “S-Voice” works with Wi-Fi or 3G, but it can also be used without it if you use applications that do not require Internet access (word processing, calendar, etc…). If “S-Voice” has difficulty answer your question or doing a task, it is important to cancel your request before asking a new question.

When you are on “S-Voice”, you will find two buttons that are on either side of the central icon (the icon with a microphone). The one on the left will allow you to activate or deactivate speech synthesis. The one on the right will allow you to access examples of sentence wording for “S-Voice”.

Quickly activate/deactivate accessibility settings with ACCESSIBILITY SHORTCUT

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Quickly activate/deactivate accessibility settings with ACCESSIBILITY SHORTCUT


ACCESSIBILITY SHORTCUT is a shortcut for accessibility settings. Upon selecting the accessibility feature that you want in the “accessibility shortcut” setting, you can click on the home button on your device three times in order to activate them.

If you regularly use multiple accessibility features, you can select multiple features in the “accessibility shortcut” menu. In this case, the triple click on the home button will open a list of your selected accessibility settings.

How to access it

Go to:  Settings/General/Accessibility/ and at the bottom of the list – Accessibility Shortcut

Navigate by Swiping with Switch Control

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Navigate by Swiping with Switch Control

What is Switch Control?

It is a new accessibility feature that was introduced on iOS 7 which allows you to navigate by scanning:
A selection rectangle moves automatically from one group of applications to another or from one function/button to another while waiting for you to select by tapping anywhere on the screen with either Bluetooth switches or with movement of the head in order to confirm your choice.

How to access it

Settings/General/Accessibility/Switch Control


The settings menu will allow you to customize features of the switch control:

  • Choose the number of buttons
  • Duration of the analysis, number of loops and pauses
  • Holding and repetition of a button press
  • Cursor speed
  • Auditory effects and vocal information
  • Colour and size of the cursor, etc.

In summary, the settings are very comprehensive and can be personalized for your navigation.

In Practice

Once the switch control is activated, you have to react to avoid having to wait for the next loop. Once the application is selected and confirmed by an input or button press, a new screen will pop up to show new options:

The first ones correspond to a simple touch which allows you to open to application you selected.

  • Tap: touch action.
  • Scroll: previous page, next page, go back.
  • Home: corresponds to a button press of the Home button.
  • Gestures: suggest a series of 12 (modifiable) common gestures.
  • Device: suggest a series of 13 settings, such as volume, multitask, Siri, screen capture, rotation, etc.
  • Settings: suggest 9 settings specifically for the switch control.

Navigate by scanning thanks to the UNIVERSAL SWITCH

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Navigate by scanning thanks to the UNIVERSAL SWITCH


It is a new accessibility setting that comes with newer Samsung devices (Galaxy S6, Galaxy Tab A) and allows you to navigate by scanning:

This feature is for people with physical and motor handicaps, using one or several switches to navigate their device.

A horizontal line followed by a vertical line scans the screen of your device, waiting for a command  (touching the screen or pressing a button on the connected switch). Once the action has been initiated, a menu will open to offer a selection of specific actions to facilitate navigation on the tablet or smartphone.

How to access it

Settings/Accessibility/Switch Control


The universal switch is completely configurable through the control panel where you can:

  • Select the number of switches
  • The duration of the scan, the number of loops and breaks
  • The hold and repetition of presses on the switch
  • The speed of the scan
  • The sound effects and vocal information
  • Etc…

The Menus

Here is the main menu of the “universal switch” where you have the ability to access other menus (see below), giving you a large possibility of choices. Once you are in this menu, a coloured rectangle will pass from one option to another while waiting for a button press form the switch or the screen, which will activate the chosen function.

Gestures menu. This menu displays sliding input options and other types of input options.

Actions menu. Here you will find magnifications, locks, screenshots and other features.

Settings menu. This menu suggests shortcuts for main functions of the universal switch.

Touch menu. Here you can control the button presses of your devices along with the functions of the telephone.

For the family or the professionals: A shortcut will allow you to get out of the “universal switch” at any time by clicking the home button of the device three times. Conversely, this same shortcut can activate this feature.

Manipulate iDevice with One Finger Using ASSISTIVE TOUCH

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Manipulate iDevice with One Finger Using ASSISTIVE TOUCH

This accessibility tool can be found on all touchscreen products from Apple’s collection (iOS).

ASSISTIVE TOUCH allows tactile access:

  • To the Home button
  • To SIRI
  • To a series of pre-configured gestures
  • To the lock screen
  • To screen rotation
  • To volume adjustment
  • To multitasking gestures
  • To screen capture
  • To shake the screen of iTunes or other applications

All this with one single touch of the screen.


Settings/General/Accessibility/Assistive Touch

Once the feature is activated, a small white translucent dot is placed on the side of the screen. It is moveable in all directions on the screen in order to not hinder visibility or access to a specific input. It is available wherever you are.

Remark: To use a stylus, you must make sure that it is made of an electrically conductive material.

Here are different screens of Assistive Touch

Assistive Touch has three different menus that allow you to activate accessibility features.

Menu 1

The following icons are available:

  • Home which mimics the physical button on the front of the device.
  • SIRI which, with a simple touch, replaces the extended time of the finger on the Home button.
  • Custom which gives access to a series of gestures that you can program easily by touching the open spaces.
  • And finally the Device icon which opens the second menu.
Menu 2

Here we find these icons:

  • Rotate Screen which allows you to rotate the screen in any direction without moving the device.
  • Lock Screen which simply turns off the screen.
  • 3 Volume icons that manage sound.
  • More icon which allows you to access the third menu.
Menu 3
  • The App Switcher icon is equivalent to a rapid double button press on the Home button of the device. It activates the bottom strip grouping the open applications and allows them to be accessed.
  • Shake stimulates the action. It allows, for example, to randomly change songs on iTunes or to cancel an input on certain applications.
  • Screenshot reproduces the action of simultaneously pressing the Home button and the On/Off button. This action snaps a picture of the screen, which is useful to, for example, read an article without Internet connection.
  • The Gestures icon places the program’s white dot on the screen.

Here are some major changes added on the latest versions of iOS:

For iOS 8, two new icons are introduced to the menu:

In fact, we now find two new features on menu 1 of the Assistive Touch features:

  • The “notification center” gathers all notifications and information of your applications.
  • The “control panel” is a quick access to settings.

These two new functions appearing on iOS 7 were hard to access for people with fine motor difficulties.

For iOS 9,

You now have the option to modify the number of icons on the main menu and to personalize their functions. This new feature allows you to limit gestures, for example with a function that would be on Menu 3 of Assistive Touch.