Simple switches to enable communication, interaction and mobility
Children with disabilities or complex needs can be helped to develop communication skills and other abilities by using simple push button switches, such as MERU’s Popz, to control toys, gadgets, mobility aids or computers.
MERU is a specialist charity that uses design and engineering skills to custom-make disability equipment to meet the exact needs of people with disabilities to help them achieve their goals. MERU also sells a range of switches – ‘Popz’ and the waterproof ‘Aqua Popz’ – which are versatile, robust and tactile, so ideal for children, but suitable for adults too.
Children can use Popz switches to independently participate in games or to interact with adapted toys as part of the crucial play and exploration stages of development, and also as an introduction to controlling their environment by working appliances such as music players, fans, lights or televisions. Some powered wheelchairs, such as MERU’s Bugzi, and other motorized ride-on children’s cars can be driven using Popz switches, increasing the child’s mobility and concepts of cause and effect at key stages of development.
Popz switches can also be used in combination with other computer input devices such as head pointers or eye tracking to allow increased access to commercial software. They can also be used with multiple choice computer software that enables a single switch to be used to control any combination of keys, mouse actions or software commands. Key choices are often ‘scanned’, where a highlighted box moves over items on the screen one after the other until the switch is pressed to make a selection.
Although Popz are ideal for use with custom and bespoke equipment, they have a standard 3.5mm jack plug which can be used with a growing range of off the shelf device interfaces and switch adapted toys, such as those available from www.inclusive.co.uk.
To find out more about MERU’s Popz switches, or to purchase them directly, visit www.MERU.org.uk/shop