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.

Step 1: Connect switches to your Android device

Note: If you want to use the physical buttons on your Android device as your switches, skip to Step 3 below.

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. Tap Accessibility and then Switch Access and then Settings.
    3. Tap Auto-scan.
      • If Auto-scan doesn't appear, tap Scanning method and select Linear scanning or Row-column.
    4. At the top of the Auto-scan screen, turn on Auto-scan.
      • Optional: Adjust auto-scan settings, including auto-scan time, delay on first item, and number of scans.
    5. Tap the Back button to return to Switch Access settings. 
    6. Tap Assign switches for scanning.
    7. Tap Auto-scan.
    8. When the dialog opens, press your switch.
    9. Tap Save.
  • 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. Tap 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 Save.
    6. Tap Select.
    7. When the dialog opens, press the switch want to use as your "Select" switch.
    8. In the dialog, tap Save.
  • 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. Tap Accessibility and then Switch Access and then Settings.
      • Make sure that Auto-scan is off.
    3. Tap 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 Save.
    7. Tap Group selection switch 2.
    8. When the dialog opens, press your second switch.
    9. In the dialog, tap Save.
    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 (optional): Turn on spoken feedback

To hear items on the screen read out loud, you can turn on spoken feedback in Switch Access.

  1. On the Switch Access settings screen, tap Speech, sound & vibration.
  2. Turn on Spoken feedback.
  3. Optional: Adjust these options on the Spoken feedback screen:
    • Speak descriptive text: Hear spoken feedback for items with available actions and for items that have descriptive text. This setting might be useful if you're unable to see the screen.
    • Verbosity: Choose how much information is spoken.
    • Text-to-speech (TTS) settings: Change your device's TTS settings.
    • Finish speech before moving (for auto-scan only): Turn this setting on to wait for spoken feedback to finish (up to 10 seconds) before moving to the next item.
    • Other feedback: Turn on vibration or sound feedback, and adjust sound settings.

Step 5: 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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