Special Words User GuideBack Next
There are two options for using switches with Special Words:
Using the support provided by Special Words
This provides simple switch access within each activity, requiring very few presses, and is designed for where the switch user will control the activity, but another person (who doesn't need to use a switch) will support the user by starting the app and selecting the activity. This works with all versions of iOS.
Using the support built into iOS
Only available in iOS 7 and later, this more general switch support allows full control of the app, and the ability to access the home screen and to switch between apps, etc. This option requires more presses, and is suited to users who are able to navigate around the device more generally using 1 or 2 switches. If enabled (using Settings app > Accessibility > Switch Control) this takes precedence over option 1.
The rest of this chapter describes option 1. To use this with iOS 7 or later, firstly ensure that Switch Control in the Settings app is turned OFF. If you wish to use option 2, there is a blog by Jane Farrall with videos that you may find helpful.
All of the activities in Special Words can be controlled using switch access scanning, with 1 or 2 switches connected to the iPad, iPhone or iPod touch via a Bluetooth switch interface. Alternatively, USB switches can be connected to the iPad's charging port via Apple's iPad Camera Kit (although you may need to connect via a powered USB hub).
To make use of this feature, if you are using Bluetooth, you need to have already enabled Bluetooth on your Apple device, and have paired it with the switch interface. The first switch must be configured to act as a space key or the sequence of two keys ~1, and the second switch (if used) to act as an enter key or the sequence of two keys ~3.
It is also possible to simulate the use of switches, using an external keyboard, as described in Chapter 8. As the app also supports using external keyboards and switches together at the same time, this provides a way for the adult to model the use of switches for the child, in a dual-control manner.
Before proceeding further, you must also specify the number of switches you are going to use in the settings for Special Words: from the Word List, tap the action button at the top right and then the Settings button at the top right. You will see a view similar to that shown on the right. Change the number of switches from 0 to 1 or 2, as appropriate (beside the bottom red arrow in the screenshot).
Special Words offers two different scanning modes:
With 1 switch
Clicking will display a red highlighting border around the first baseboard card, and then cycle this border round the others indefinitely until clicked again, when it will select the currently highlighted card as if tapped on the screen. The cycling speed is tied to the Animation Speed setting (next to the top red arrow opposite), giving a range of about 1 to 10 seconds per card, with a default middle setting of about 3 seconds.
With 2 switches
The first switch highlights a different card each time it is clicked, and the second switch performs the selection.
If you want to make it possible for the switch user to advance from one page in an activity to the next without assistance, change the Advancing to Next Page setting to Automatic, as shown next to the middle red arrow opposite.
We have tested Special Words using the APPlicator switch interface and Smoothie 75 switches manufactured by Pretorian Technologies Ltd. Other switches and interfaces should also work provided they emulate a Bluetooth or USB keyboard with space and enter or ~1 and ~3 keys.
If you have any difficulty getting your switches to work, check whether they generate any input with other apps on your device, e.g. Notes, Pages or Safari. If the switches are connected and configured correctly, then you should be able to use them to input space and enter or ~1 and ~3 key-presses in these apps, without the on-screen keyboard appearing. If these work, double-check that you have configured the appropriate number of switches in the Settings for Special Words.
If you have problems caused by switches unintentionally being pressed multiple times or being held down, you can alleviate this by adjusting the options in Settings app > General > Accessibility > Keyboard > Key Repeat (available in iOS 9 and later).