Choosing the Best Capability Switch

Capability Switches are designed for people with physical disabilities, providing them an alternative means to interact with speech generating devices, switch adapted devices including adapted therapeutic learning products, appliance controllers, and computers.

Enabling Devices manufactures hundreds of switches but they operate in one of three ways: momentary, latch (i.e. on/off), and timed:

  • Momentary – When you press a momentary switch, the device stays on as long as you maintain pressure on the switch.
  • Latch – Turns on the device when the switch is pressed once and turns off the
    device when the switch is pressed again. An example of a latch switch is the On/Off Jumbo Switch (#791).
  • Timed – When you press, it turns on a device for a preset amount of time (1 to 120 seconds).

Enabling Devices also has a Switch Modifier (#605) that will change any momentary switch into a latch or timed switch.

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Which One Is Right For You?

Enabling Devices takes pride in manufacturing hundreds of durable yet extremely sensitive capability switches at reasonable prices. However, it can be difficult to decide which switch would work best for your particular set of circumstances.

In this article, we set forth important factors to consider when choosing a switch. Of course, our technical staff is available to address any additional questions or concerns you may have at

When selecting a switch, there are several important factors to consider:


What actions can the person who will use the switch reliably perform?

Activating the switch should not cause a person undue fatigue or pain, or
compromise good muscle tone.

Parts of the Body

Which part of the body will give the person the best control over switch activation?

Many switches are available for different parts of the body: head, mouth, hand,
finger, etc.

Eye Switch

Hand & Finger Switches

Head Switches**

**Can also be activated by other parts of the body

Mouth Switch


Amount of Force

How much force can the person consistently exert when hitting a switch? See our free Switch Comparison Chart for the specific amount of force needed to activate a particular switch.

Sensitive Switches

If a person can only apply a minimum amount of force, then our most sensitive
switches are appropriate:

Durable Switches

If a person will exert a lot of force, the switch will need to be very durable. Most desirable is a switch that will soften the impact between the switch and the body part.

Our “Soft Yet Strong” switches are:


Does the person lack good targeting ability?

If so, you should choose a switch with a larger surface area. Our largest switches are:

Does the person have tremors?

The Jumbo Switch with Latch Timer (#792) has an intention adjustment that requires the user to hold the switch for a selected amount of time from 1 to 15 seconds. This intention adjustment ensures that the switch will only be activated when the user deliberately intends to activate it.

Range of Motion

What is the person’s range of motion?

People with fine motor skills and a small range of motion must choose a switch which is activated after a short “travel”. Travel is the distance a person must press on a switch before it is activated.

Our switches requiring short travel are:


Does the person have perceptual difficulties?

If so, feedback from the switch that has been activated will be beneficial. Feedback on our switches includes lights (L), music (M), and/or vibration (V).

Our switches with feedback include:

The following switches have music, lights and vibration that can be individually
turned on or off so you can have all three effects, just one effect or any combination:


Does the person have visual impairments?

Several of our switches are specifically designed for people with visual impairments. Several have bright locator lights, texture and the switch itself is a bright light.

These switches include:


Does the person need sensory input or do they need to work on tactile defensiveness and/or sensory integration?

We have several switches to help – bumpy, shaggy, gooshy, vibrating. These
switches include:


Do you want to motivate a student to participate in activities?

Many switches are designed to encourage a person to reach out and engage in
activities. Some examples include:

Mounting Switches on Wheelchairs, Tables or Bedrails:

Where will the person be using the switch?

This will determine how the switch should be mounted in order to facilitate its use.

The switch should not be positioned too far away so that it is inconvenient to reach, nor should it be too close so that it interferes with other activities. Many of the switches discussed in this article may require mounting systems that are sold separately.

Switches that are sold with mounts are:

Switches for Learning

Do you want to use switches to teach your students new skills?

►For Cause and Effect, we suggest:

►For Teaching Directionality:

►To Increase Strength, Dexterity, or Fine Motor Skills, we suggest:

Switches for Computers and iPads

► For iPads:

Switches for the Classroom

Do different students in your classroom have different switch needs? We

Switches for Assessment

Do you need a variety of switches to ascertain what is best for each of your

We suggest:

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