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Set up Switch Access for Android

This information applies only to devices running Android 5.0 and higher.

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 and then 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:

  1. Open your Android device's Settings app.
  2. Select Language & input. Follow the steps for your Android version:
    • Android 7.0 and later: Select Physical keyboard and then Show virtual keyboard.
    • Android 6.0 and earlier: Select Current keyboard and then 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): Auto-scanning automatically moves the highlight through the items on the screen until you make a selection. You press the switch to start scanning, then press the switch again to select the highlighted item.
    How to set up auto-scanning
    1. Open your device's Settings app.
    2. Select Accessibility and then Switch Access and then Settings.
    3. Select Auto-scan.
      • If Auto-scan doesn't appear, tap Scanning method and select Linear scanning or Row-column.
    4. Tap Assign switches for scanning and then Auto-scan.
    5. When the dialog opens, press your switch.
    6. Optional: To change the amount of time spent on each item, tap Auto-scan time and enter a number of seconds.
    7. Tap OK.
  • Step scanning (2 or more switches): With step scanning, press one switch to move the highlighting around the screen (the "Next" switch). Press the other switch to select the highlighted item (the "Select" switch).
    How to set up step scanning
    1. Open your device's Settings app.
    2. Select Accessibility and then Switch Access and then Settings.
      • Make sure that Auto-scan is off.
    3. Tap Assign switches for scanning and then Next.
    4. When the dialog opens, press the switch you want to use as your "Next" switch.
    5. In the dialog, tap OK.
    6. Tap Select.
    7. When the dialog opens, press the switch want to use as your "Select" switch.
    8. In the dialog, tap OK.
  • Group selection (2 or more switches): Group selection highlights groups of items on your screen, letting you narrow down the size of the group until you reach your choice. Group selection can be faster than auto-scanning or step scanning. On some devices, this is called "Option scanning."
    How to set up group selection
    1. Open your device's Settings app
    2. Select Accessibility and then Switch Access and then Settings
      • Make sure that Auto-scan is off
    3. Select Scanning method and then Group selection
    4. Tap Assign switches for scanning and then Group selection switch 1
    5. When the dialog opens, press your first switch
    6. In the dialog, tap OK
    7. Tap Group selection switch 2
    8. When the dialog opens, press your second switch
    9. In the dialog, tap OK
    10. Optional: To set up more switches (up to a total of five switches), repeat steps 7-9 for each switch. If you assign more than two switches, items on the screen are divided into more groups. As a result, each group is smaller, and you need fewer switch presses to reach the item that you want to select.

Step 4: Turn on Switch Access

After choosing your basic scanning settings, turn on Switch Access:

  1. On the Switch Access settings screen, touch the back button to return to the Switch Access screen.
  2. At the top, tap the On/Off switch.
  3. In the confirmation dialog, select OK to confirm permissions and turn on Switch Access.

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