Accessing Potential Through Assistive Technology
Alternative Computer Access

This module will guide you through alternative types of computer access and different ways to control the computer. Please take note of which version of operating system (OS X El Capitan or Windows 10 for example) the resource is for as software and hardware for computers is always rapidly changing!  If you see a product you are interested in, please check our lending library for loan availability.

Macs (uses OS X)

To check what operating system you are running on click the Apple logo in the very top left-hand corner then select “about this Mac”. At the top of the pop-up window, it should say OS X followed by a name. For example OS X Moutain Lion or OS X El Capitan. If you have a different operating system than the one listed with the instructions below some direction may have changed. Please contact Apple Support or your nearest Apple store with any questions regarding your operating system. 


PC (uses Windows)

To check what operating system you are running on click on the “start” menu and click on settings. From the settings menu click on “about”. Where it lists the edition is what operating system you are running. For example Windows 8 or Windows 10. If you have a different operating system than the one listed with the instructions below some direction may have changed. Please contact Microsoft Support with any questions regarding your operating system. 


All About Switches

Do you have a student who needs to use a switch for access? Do you have a student that needs to progress from cause and effect to scanning? This course is designed to explain what a switch is, how it is used and to identify software that can support your switch user for use on their level and how they progress to the next.

  1. Switches and Switch Interfaces
  2. Switch Software
  3. Switches and iPads
  4. Creating  or Buying your Own Switch
  5. Powerlink


Lesson 1: Switches and Switch Interfaces

A Switch Interface is a device that connect the switch to the device. Most devices (unless specifically design for those with disabilities) do not have a port to connect a switch and so switch interfaces fill that gap. They can also be used as control centers for functions. For example: a computer switch interface will allow different mouse functions to be controlled through different switches. Various switches and switch interfaces can be borrowed for 2-3 weeks from the T.A.S.C. lending library.

Lesson 2: Switch Software

We are getting closer every day to having all programs be switch-accessible, but unfortunately, we still have quite a ways to go. Below are listed a very programs that are switch accessible. If you have any programs you would like to add please mention it in the comments below! 

Lesson 3: Switches & iPads

iPad switch interfaces can be borrowed for 2-3 weeks from T.A.S.C. Lending Library.

Lesson 4: Creating or Buying your own Switch
Anyone can create their own switch. If you have access to a 3D printer, you can print out your own switch (with a few other materials needed) for about $10! Thank you to the UAH Students in the engineering department for creating a wonderful inexpensive Switch design! 


Lesson 5: Powerlink
AT We Love- Powerlink Webinar taught by Laura Schertz, MS, OTR/L, T.A.S.C. (Recorded 02/20/2013)

Picture Symbols

These modules provide information about picture symbols including how to create them and implement them effectively.

Creating Picture Symbols Using Microsoft PowerPoint (Free Solution!)

Picture Exchange Communication System

PECS is a specific method of using picture symbols to communicate. Information about training and the method can be found on their website.

Picture Symbol Software (Prices Vary)

Free Resources for Picture Symbols

Preschool Resources for Picture Symbols

Additional Information/Research Articles

Social Stories

Great in helping individuals understand feelings and actions associated with certain events.

Low Tech AT

This module will provide lessons on how to create low assistive technology solutions using materials available at hardware stores, electronic stores, and Dollar Trees!

Eye Gaze Frame
This lesson provides instruction on creating a PVC Eye Gaze Frame to assist in communication.


Mouse House
This lesson provides information how to create a “mouse house” which enables a computer user to hit a larger target in order to activate the left mouse click. Great to use with the Cause and Effect games listed in our Link Library.

Adapting Toys & Other Battery Operated Devices

  • How to Make a Simple Switch (Youtube Video)

Flip Book
This Word document can be used to create a low-tech flip book to use when communicating with an individual with disability who can say yes (by blinking, raising eyebrow, etc.).

Mouse Adaptations
Simple and free/low cost ways to make the computer mouse easier to use.

Wireless Call Bell

Note Taking

This course provides information about Assistive Technology tools to assist with note taking.

*Special thanks to Michael Papp, MS Rehabilitation Engineering, Rehabilitation Technology Specialist III, ADRS for permitting T.A.S.C. to post content from his 2011 ALATEC presentation on Note Taking.*


Microsoft Office is a program bundle that many of us are familiar with. This bundle includes Microsft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and a few other programs. You find these programs in most schools and workplaces.

Microsoft Word for Mac – Notebook View



Microsoft OneNote

• Organize text, pictures, digital handwriting, audio and video recordings into one location.
• Sync notes with audio.




Apple Does have it’s own version of Word and OneNote. Pages is very similar to Word and iOS Notes is very similar to OneNote. Both are well-made programs that link to all apple devices.

Accessibility with Apple

More Resources For Apple Notes

Google Docs

Livescribe Smartpen

• Written notes sync with recorded audio
• Download notes from pen directly to computer (allows for searching notes and sharing)
• Additional apps can be purchased for the pen
• Pre-record a “test” to allow a student to independently complete test and have it read aloud
• Can be used with Evernote, Facebook, Google Docs, and other mobile applications



•Web based account to organize notes, photographs, audio files.
•Works across various platforms including Mac, Windows, iPhone, Android, etc.
•Additional applications available to create flashcards, Livescribe, Outlook, and many more.


Sonocent Audio NoteTaker

• Record or import audio into program and it will group into phrases.
• Easily allows audio to be edited and export key segments for reviewing.
• Sync audio with notes.


Low Tech/No Tech Note Taking

Carbonless Copy Notebooks
Cornell Notetaking Paper

Adapting Books

Physical, visual, and learning disabilities can make it difficult for individuals to access standard printed materials. This module provides information on ways to adapt books.

*Please respect copyrighted materials. If you are adapting a book, make sure to always have the original book paired with the adapted book.*

Adapting Books

High Tech Solutions

Many of the high-tech communication devices have page sets already installed to make reading accessible.

Electronic Books

Picture Symbols

Don’t forget to visit the Picture Symbol Module for additional resources.

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