Sunday, August 22, 2010

Switch Positioning

Finding the right switch for the job is just part of the puzzle for our students.  Positioning a switch (or other light weight items) can be a challenge.  We need the switch to stay consistently in one place, yet we might need to accommodate for extraneous or "too hard" movements.  We also may need to position the switch in a way that is tamper or "behavior proof".  Switch mounts without any "give" might mean an injury if hit "too hard" and switch mounts with too much "give" means that all of the effort that goes into a switch hit might be wasted if the switch is not where it is supposed to be.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a switch positioning system and setting it up:
  • how much force can the positioning system sustain without moving or breaking?
  • does the switch positioning system have any "give" for students with movements of varying force?
  • how expensive is the positioning system?  is it possible to by the same thing at a lower price?
  • is it preferable to have a permanent or movable switch positioning system?
  • how many moving parts do you need the switch positioning system to have (remembering that the more moving parts the more likely it is to break)?
Some tips and reminders:
  • many of the switch mounts/positioning systems look the same because they are; most use Manfrotto clamps and joints with an Ablenet switch base, because they all use the same parts quality will be consistent so price and warranty should be the deciding factor (also you can order Manfrotto pieces from non-AT sources and an Ablenet plate from Ablenet and make your own system much more cheaply)
  • consider using the Manfrotto cable clamps for "cord fiddling" students
  • if using an adjustable "easel" type system be sure to check on how the angle of the easel is selected and maintained, both velcro and knob style systems can wear out and slip, making the system useless over time
  • a sheet of pegboard, some plastic table ties and some C-clamps can be your best friend
  • the more "joints" or moving parts the more likely the system is to slip and/or break over time
  • remember a drill and a set of screws and nuts can be the best mount you have, drill holes to aline with those on the switch and mount directly and permanently on a chair ( or easel or tray or table) (make friends with the janitor if you need to!), mind you don't void a warranty!
  • remember that a round clamp on a round pole is likely to slip, Manfrotto sells clamp wedges very inexpensively to avoid this in systems based on the Manfrotto super clamp
  • also a piece of Dycem or non-slip material between tubing and the clamp can prevent slipping
  • suction cup based systems can often be revived by wetting or washing the suction cup and removal is easier if you slip a thin piece of plastic (like a credit card) under one edge
  • Dycem and other non-slip materials can also be revived with wetting or washing
  • it might be in the users best interest to install permanent switch mounting and switch(es) on the users wheelchair/bed/stander, ASL and other companies vend these systems


  1. Thanks for the tips. I have just bought an expensive switch /joy stick enabled camera form Independent Life Technologies which I am sure will break if dropped and I am wondering how other people have mounted their cameras. I have a universal mounting clamp and some mounting plates and of course lots of velcro.
    Any suggestions including cheap ones! would be appreciated

  2. Hi Vienna, for Camera mounting a friend used a trabasack, it can be seen used in this

    He didn't use the velcro option curve connect, but that is an option too.


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