Switch Access lets you interact with your Android device using one or more switches instead of the touch screen. Switch Access can be helpful for people with dexterity impairments that prevent them from interacting directly with the Android device.
Switch Access scans the items on your screen, highlighting each item in turn, until you make a selection.
To use Switch Access, you’ll first need one or more switches. There are several kinds of switches:
- Use an external switch: A switch is a device that sends a keystroke signal to your Android device. Several companies sell these devices, such as AbleNet, Enabling Devices, RJ Cooper, and Tecla. These devices connect to your Android device via USB or Bluetooth. (Google does not endorse these companies or their products.)
- Use an external keyboard: You can configure a standard USB or Bluetooth keyboard to work as a switch device by assigning one or more of its keys to actions.
- Use buttons on your Android device: Built-in buttons on your Android device, such as the volume up and volume down buttons, can also be assigned to actions. This option is intended for developers. If you’re using this option, you can skip the first two setup steps in the next article.
Set up Switch Access for Android
These steps describe how to set up Switch Access for your Android device.
Note: If you plan to use the buttons on your Android device as your switches, skip Step 1 and Step 2 below.
Step 1: Connect switches to your Android device
If you’re using an external switch device or keyboard, the first step is to connect it to your Android device.
- USB: Connect the switch or keyboard to your Android device with a compatible USB cable.
- Bluetooth: On your Android device, navigate to Settings > Bluetooth. For more instructions, check the documentation for your switch or keyboard, or learn more about connecting to Bluetooth devices.
Step 2: Enable the on-screen keyboard
After you’ve connected an external switch device or keyboard, Android automatically hides the on-screen keyboard. To enter text with Switch Access, you need to re-enable the keyboard.
To re-enable the on-screen keyboard:
- Open your Android device’s Settings app
- Select Language & input. Follow the steps for your Android version:
- Android 7.0 and later: Select Physical keyboard > Show virtual keyboard
- Android 6.0 and earlier: Select Current keyboard > Hardware (Show input method)
Step 3: Choose basic scanning settings
Choose your basic scanning settings to fit your preferences and how many switches you have. If you want to try a different setup later, you can change your settings.
To get started, choose one of the options below:
Auto-scanning (1 switch): Press your switch to start scanning, then press the switch again to select the highlighted item.
Step scanning (2 or more switches): Press one switch to move the highlighting on your screen, then press another switch to select the highlighted item.
Group selection (2 or more switches): Groups of items are highlighted in colors that correspond to your switches. On some devices, this is called "Option scanning."