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If a child has learnt to control their wheelchair using
a joystick then often they will be able to access an electronic communication aid also using a similar joystick.
Modern wheelchairs can have Bluetooth integrated into their systems which means it’s really easy to connect them to Windows, Apple and Android devices with apps or mouse devices.
For older wheelchairs without Bluetooth, it is possible to position and fix an additional joystick onto the wheelchair, usually in close proximity to the wheelchair joystick.
This also works for children who use switches to control their wheelchairs, although the set-up process is a little more complicated.
Watch the first 2.44 minutes of this video to see how a joystick and switch, integrated with wheelchair access can be used with an AAC system.
Environmental Control and Access to Games
Many AAC users also have physical disabilities which affects their ability to interact with their physical environment.
Some children find it difficult to accomplish every day tasks such as changing TV channels, putting on music, opening and closing curtains, and so on. Most dedicated communication aids, other than iPad and Android tablets, support some form of environmental
control. This involves the addition of special symbols to their device that send wireless signals to the lights, television and so on to perform these essential everyday functions. The lights etc also need the bluetooth or wifi enabled
connections via a plug and it is essential to check any possible security issues when networ connection are used.
Children might also want access to games and videos that allow them to play with others both off and online. This may require some careful research on app stores if you are looking for tablet games in English. There is a dedicated UK switch access website for Windows PC accessible games called One Switch.
Discussions about specific access ideas using assistive technologies
often happen online between experts freely offering advice - one of the largest groups, with 3.1K members, is AT Makers on Facebook. Enabling Devices have a large number of adapted or specially designed toys that provide ideal interactive communication moments.
Recently smart speakers such as the Google Assistant and Amazon Echo have become
very popular. On their own these can report the weather, give out reminders, tell jokes, play music and send messages; but with additional hardware they can also change TV channel, dim the lights, open the door, and adjust the heating. The great thing
about these devices is that they can be purchased in many shops and installed very easily. They also work with all electronic communication aids as they rely on voice to work.
The video below is not specific to children, but shows how an AAC device can be used to access Alexa. It is important to remember that the pauses between commands when using AAC may cause an issue for the smart speaker which is why there may need to be
some set phrases linked to reequests such as 'turn the lights on', or 'today's weather' and Spotify 'Name of music' etc.