Many of the people that we work with find that certain buttons on either standard console controllers or mouse and keyboard can be difficult to either reach or press. If this is the case then there can be other ways that you can potentially activate button presses. It may be that mounting a controller in a particular way might make it easier for you to access all of the buttons. Another way that can be helpful is to use external accessibility switches as these can be positioned anywhere that you can comfortably and repeatedly press them. For example some people find that having switches mounted by their head might be helpful. Or potentially having one on the floor by their feet. Switches can be used for a variety of things such as for button presses or emulating joystick movement such as Walk Forwards button for first-person games. The type of switch that might work for you will depend on the physical movement and strength that you have and also where you’re planning to position it. There are a range of ways that you can mount switches including wedges and trays, mounting arms or potentially using Velcro to position them straight onto a controller. Positioning a switch in the correct place can be key and it’s also really important to know which type of switch might work best for you. The switches that we’ll be looking at work in a variety of different switch interfaces.
We tend to use switches that will connect via a 3.5 millimetre jack as these are the inputs required for the switch interfaces that we use. Now we’ll have a look at some of the switches that we use. The vast majority of these are digital and whilst they can work as any button on the controller you may find that they take a bit of getting used to if you’re used to using analogue triggers for certain controls. Ultra Light switches are small switches that require a small amount of force to activate. They can be particularly useful for people that have limited movement or strength. Due to their size and shape they can often be put into small spaces and can also often be used alongside one another. Buddy buttons are some of the bigger buttons that we use and can be particularly useful if you’re planning to use larger movement to press them. They provide a large target so they can be particularly useful if accuracy or accessing smaller buttons is difficult. Buddy buttons require more force than Ultra Lights to activate them. Specs switches are similar to buddy buttons but they are smaller which means that you can potentially fit more of them into a smaller space. They come with a base that can be removed and they also come with a Velcro strap. This can be useful if you’re planning to use one on a wheelchair headrest, for example. The adaptive gaming kit by Logitech comes with twelve different switches. They all have their own Velcro and the kit also includes two different trays. They also come with stickers which can be useful for labelling up your buttons. These small buttons require the least amount of force of all of the Logitech switches. They can be a nice alternative to Specs switches if you require a round switch that doesn’t need too much force to activate. There are three of these included in the kits. There are also four light touch buttons included in the kits. These actually require more force to activate than the Logitech small switches and more force than the Ultra Light switches that we featured earlier in this video. However, if you need a switch of a similar size and shape to an Ultra Light switch but need it to require a little bit more force to activate then these could potentially be quite useful. There are three large buttons included in the kits. These buttons are similar to buddy buttons and they have consistent activation across the entire top surface. This means that wherever you press it as long as it’s with the correct amount of force on the top of the button then you can potentially activate it. There are two variable triggers included with the kits. These triggers are analogue and as such can be used to emulate the triggers on a console controller. These require quite a large movement to fully activate them and currently will only work with the Xbox Adaptive Controller as this will allow for some analogue inputs. If physically accessing buttons is difficult then another way could be to try Sip-and-puff switches. To activate these you either sip or puff into the tubing with these two actions providing two different controls within a game. If physically accessing a controller or buttons is difficult you might want to consider voice controls. Voice controls can give you access to a wide range of controls within a game but you might notice a slight lag or delay when compared to pressing a button. Many thanks for watching this video and if there’s anything that we can do to help with access to gaming then please do get in touch.
Many of the people that we work with find that certain buttons on a standard console controller or mouse and keyboard can be difficult to either reach or press. There are multiple other ways to activate button presses, and in this blog post we will have a look at some of the ways we do this at SpecialEffect.
Mounting a standard controller
It may be that mounting a controller in a particular way can help with accessing the buttons on the controller, as it can be helpful if the user does not have to physically hold onto the controller or hold its weight. This can free up the persons’ hands, so that they can potentially reach and press more of the buttons. There are several ways that you can mount a controller.
Mounting Arms – Mounting arms can be useful, as they take the full weight of the controller, and can be positioned wherever the person needs it to be. Some people will have the controller mounted by their hands, and others by their chin, depending on where it is easiest for them to use it. We tend to use Manfrotto Variable Friction Mounting arms with a mounting plate.
Wedges and Trays – It can also be possible to mount a controller flat onto a tray. For some people, this position will make it easier to reach and press the buttons. If it needs to be at an angle, a wedge can be used.
If particular buttons on a controller are difficult, another potential option that may help is to use accessibility switches. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can be positioned anywhere that they can be pressed comfortably and repeatedly; this can include having them mounted onto a wheelchair headrest to be pressed with head movement, or positioned onto the floor to be activated with foot movement.
Switches can be used as button presses or to emulate joystick movement. For instance, a switch could be used to emulate ‘Up’ on the left analog stick, for example, and could then be used as a walk forward button in a first-person game.
There are a range of switches available and the correct switch to use will depend on the physical movement and strength that the user has to activate it. It will also depend on where it is going to be positioned.
Positioning a switch in the correct place can be key. Examples we use include using Velcro to position it directly onto a standard controller, placing it on a tray, or mounting it by using mounting arms.
The switches that are featured in this post work in a variety of different switch interfaces, including the Xbox Adaptive Controller. They all use a 3.5mm jack.
The majority of switches are digital, which means that they are “on” when pressed and “off” when released. They do not allow for gradual activation like the analogue triggers on a standard controller. Digital switches can take some getting used to when used to emulate the triggers, if the person playing is used to analogue triggers. Currently, the only analog switches available that do allow for gradual activation are included in the LogitechG Gaming Kit.
Ultra Light HD Switches – These are small digital switches that only require a small amount of force (28g of force) to activate them. If physically pressing the buttons on a standard controller is difficult, these can be helpful, in particular if the user has limited movement or strength. Due to their size and shape, it can also be possible to fit them into small spaces or to position several in close proximity to one another.
Buddy Buttons – These are some of the bigger buttons that we use, meaning that they can be useful for users who need larger targets. When positioned correctly, they can be particularly helpful if accuracy or accessing smaller switches is difficult. They require more physical force to activate them (142g) than the Ultra Light HD switches.
Specs Switches – These require less force (100g) to activate than buddy buttons and are smaller in size. This means that it is possible to fit more of them into a smaller space, such as on a tray. They come with an interchangeable base; one is a flat surface, which can make it easier when attaching to a lap tray, and one allows for a Velcro strap to be attached, which is also included.
LogitechG Adaptive Gaming Kit
The LogitechG Adaptive Gaming Kit comes with four different types of switches (12 switches in total), two different types of trays, and Hook and Loop attachment stickers (similar to Velcro). It also includes Xbox One stickers, so that you can label up your switches as the Xbox One button that the switch will be activating.
Small Buttons – There are three of these switches, and they require the least amount of force to activate of any of the other switches included in this kit (actuation force: 56g). They can provide a good alternative for someone who needs a switch that requires less force than a specs switch.
Light Touch Buttons – There are four of these Light Touch Buttons included in the kit. They actually require more force (actuation force: 59g) to activate than both the Ultra Light HD switches and the Small Switches, but they do provide a nice alternative for someone who needs an Ultra Light HD size and shape switch, but needs it to require more physical pressure.
Large Buttons – There are three of these large buttons included in the kit. They are similar to buddy buttons, and also provide consistent activation across the entire top surface of the switch (actuation force: 101g). This means that, provided you press anywhere on the top surface of the switch with the correct amount of physical force, you can potentially activate it.
Variable Triggers – There are two Variable Triggers included, and these switches are analogue. They are the only switches to provide gradual activation (actuation force: 107g) in the same way that the triggers on a controller does, which can make them useful for certain situations, such as when accelerating or braking in racing games. They require quite a large movement to activate them, and they are bigger in size than the triggers on a standard controller. These switches will only currently work with the Xbox Adaptive Controller, as this will allow for some analogue inputs.
If physically pressing buttons or switches with a part of the body is difficult, then there are other potential options.
Sip and Puff Switches – This can include Sip and Puff Switches. These come with a tube which can be positioned near to a person’s mouth, so that they can sip/puff on the end to provide two separate inputs, which in turn activates two different buttons.
Voice Controls – Voice controls are another option and these can provide a wide range of in-game controls. Users do sometimes notice a slight lag/input delay when playing a game which may not occur when pressing buttons. More information on using voice controls to access games can be found on the blog: https://gameaccessblog.org.uk/tag/voice/
Equipment Demonstrated in the Video (unafilliated lnks)
Manfrotto Variable Friction arm: https://www.manfrotto.com/uk-en/photo-variable-friction-arm-italian-craftsmanship-244n/
Manfrotto Super Clamp: https://www.manfrotto.com/uk-en/super-photo-clamp-without-stud-aluminium-035/
Heavy Duty Switch Mounting Plates: http://www.inclusive.co.uk/heavy-duty-switch-mounting-plates
Trabasack Curve Connect: https://trabasack.com/products/curve-connect/
Maxess Mounting Trays and Mounts: http://www.maxesssite.co.uk/html/mptraymount.html
Atec Ultra Light HD Switch: http://www.atengineering.us/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=154
Buddy Button: https://www.ablenetinc.com/buddy-button
Specs Switch: https://www.ablenetinc.com/specs-switch
LogitechG Adaptive Gaming Kit: https://www.logitechg.com/en-gb/products/gamepads/adaptive-gaming-kit-accessories.html
Sip and Puff Switches: https://www.liberator.co.uk/sip-puff-switch-with-headset
If you have any questions, please visit the ‘Contact Us’ page.
Video by Cara Jessop
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