Switch Activities Promote Classroom Inclusion for Young Students
Inclusion is more than just a physical presence in the classroom. Inclusion means integrating all children in the classroom, including those with special needs and diverse
backgrounds. All students learn when they actively participate in school lessons and interact with others. Assistive technology can often provide a bridge for students with
disabilities to actively participate and learn along with their typically developing peers.
Using a switch in the classroom may be a great way to include all students in a variety of enjoyable and educational activities. The following activities use a switch and are an
excellent way to promote inclusion among all classroom students.
Why Use a Switch?
Switches provide students with disabilities the opportunity to enhance their learning, recreation, socialization, and communication. Switches also enhance students’
independence and participation by giving them access to switch-accessible toys, communication devices, computers, appliances, and power wheelchairs. Although a switch
is an indirect method of access, it provides individuals with disabilities a method to access the environment when unable to use other means.
Students of all ages enjoy blowing bubbles; now all students have the same opportunity by using a switch. By simply connecting a switch and a bubble-making machine to
AbleNet®’s Power-Link® 3 environmental control unit, any student can “blow” bubbles! All the students can take turns using the switch to turn the bubble machine on and o.. To
add more enjoyment to this activity, hook up a radio and another switch to the PowerLink® 3 and let the students control the bubbles and the music!
Musical chairs is another switch activity that uses a PowerLink® 3 and a radio. It’s as easy as: 1) connect the switch and radio to the Power-Link® 3, 2) set up the chairs, and 3)
start the music. If a student is unable to move around or sit in the chairs, have that student be in control of the music. That way, all the students are able to participate in this fun
Another enjoyable activity for students of all ages is Bingo. With the use of a switch and an All-Turn-It™ spinner from AbleNet®, any student can call out the Bingo numbers to the
other students. By pressing the switch, the All-Turn-It™ spinner will randomly select a number to be called out. Additionally, a communication device could be connected with
Along with these games, many educational activities can be adapted for switch use including reading books. The Bookworm™ literacy tool from AbleNet®, allows books to be
recorded into it and played back with the push of a button. By connecting the Bookworm with a switch, any student could access the story by pressing the switch. Students who
are nonverbal could have a peer record the story and take turns pressing the switch.
Furthermore, books or songs could be recorded into AbleNet’s Step-by-Step™ communicator and connected to a switch. With the switch, any student could have a “voice” when
the class sings a group song or reads a line from a book aloud.
Using the computer and a switch leads to even more opportunities for inclusion among students. Many software programs have scanning capabilities that allow for a switch to
be used to control the program. One such program is BuildAbility® by Don Johnston, Inc. Using BuildAbility® students can create a slideshow and access the slideshow using a
switch. Students can make stories using this program and share them with the class.
Choose and Tell: Nursery Rhymes by Inclusive Technologies is another switch software program that is fun, educational, and supports inclusion. In this soft ware program,
students choose where their favorite nursery rhyme characters will visit, how the character will travel there, and what the character will do. Choose and Tell: Nursery Rhymes has
scanning capabilities that allow any student to select a choice using a switch. Using a switch, all children have the opportunity to make a selection and tell their version of the
story. This makes a fun and silly activitythe entire class will enjoy.
Basic switch programs such as Switch Arcade and Switch Puzzles by Simtech Publications allow students with disabilities to learn cause and e.ect and still participate in
entertaining computer games. These software programs are fun for everyone and all students will want a chance to play the switch software. Have students play together and
help each other solve the puzzles or play in the arcade.
Switch activities allow many students with disabilities to be active participants in the classroom. Using a switch gives students the opportunity to be involved with their
classmates in the classroom and promotes inclusion among peers.
This information was adapted from PACER Center, www.pacer.org and used with permission.
Some of this information was adapted from material by Joan Blaska, Ph.D., professor emeritus, St. Cloud State University.