Provided by: UCP/NYC

 A switch is a device that enables individuals with disabilities to control battery operated or electrical equipment such as toys, appliances or computers. There are many different types of switches available from several manufacturers. The type of switch that is recommended for an individual child will vary depending upon the person’s physical capabilities such as using his/her hands, arms and legs. There are switches that can be activated by pressing, pushing, pulling, rolling, squeezing, head movement, eye blinks, and sipping and puffing

Some examples of switches include:

  • Toggle or Joystick – Activated by hand movement (push or pull).
  • Squeeze/Grip – Activated by grasp.
  • Push/Pull – Activated by any part of the body, primarily used with hand or gross motor movement.
  • Mercury – Activated by head movement (requires head mounting gear).
  • Voice Activated – Activated by voice or sound.
  • Tongue – Activated by movement of the tongue against a spring lever.
  • Twitch – Activated by small muscle movement, such as wrinkling the forehead.
  • Sip and Puff – Activated by sipping on a tube and deactivated by puffing on the same tube.
  • Photocell – Activated by any body movement that creates a shadow over an electronic photocell.
  • Shape – Activated when correct shape or shapes are put into appropriate receptacle.
  • Eye Blink – Activated by blinking of an eye.

Find Support

Connect with other parents about Assistive Technology.

Visit the My Child Without Limits support community and talk to parents, caregivers, and professionals about their experiences.


Looking for more information on Assistive Technology and Individualized Service Plans?

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)
(877) 687-2842 (877) 687-2842

Alliance for Technology Access
(707) 778-3011 (707) 778-3011

National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership (NATTAP)
(703) 524-6686 (703) 524-6686

DisabilityInfo.gov (AT resources)