You will note that many of these are familiar household items,
which you should have no difficulty in borrowing or stealing. They are not all
equally convenient. The cassette player, for example, has one great disadvantage
for the very early learner - it takes three or four seconds to click into action
after the power has been applied via the switching system. This may be too long
a pause: the music or favourite sounds fill the room but the student may not associate
this event with her switching motion of some momements ago [CD
controllers would get around this problem]. The electric fan needs
several seconds for its effects to be felt.
THE SAFETY FACTOR
The matter of safety cannot be emphasised too strongly. If you work in a school
or other institution, there is probably a safety code for the use of electrical
equipment to which you must adhere. Vibrating footspas would be wonderfully rewarding
outputs, but they contain water, so they should not be used with switching systems.
Light bulbs are hot, and will burn if they are touched.
The outputs in the suggested list above are all of low wattage - switching systems
are not designed nor intended to turn on washing machines or electric fires. These
are not merely issues of common sense - it is most important that you do refer
to your health and safety regulations, and to the maximum output wattage recommended
by the manufacturers of the switch Control Unit.
3) Other types of Output
Beside many public and private hand wash basins these days are automatic hand-dryer
machines. They may be operated by proximity of the wet hand, or by button, but
what a wonderful example they provide of a ready-made switching system with an
interesting output! If the student can only reach just that little bit further,
she is rewarded by a handful or faceful of warm air, which she might find very
Look around your local environment. Automatic doors in supermarkets are
fun, until the manger comes to shoo you away. At the Royal Schools for the Deaf
the workmen are fitting automatic doors for the pupils in wheelchairs to use.
They operate from large metal pad switches in the walls.......as soon as the electricians
have gone we are going to have some fun with those! And look around the steering
column of your car - a veritable arsenal of switching systems.
There are switching systems all around us, but we don't notice them. I am
not suggesting that you encourage your students to knock that little silver hammer
through the glass of the fire bell, but, be honest, have you never been tempted
by the emergency cord on an Intercity train?
Much of what has been discussed above refers to mains-powered effects brought
into play by the tiniest movement of your student's hand, or by some other part
of her body. Now, what about battery-powered equipment - torches, clowns that
bang drums, dogs which go head-over-heels, alien ray guns with their flashing
rainbow lights and their appalling noises of sirens and machine guns? Most of
these can be adapted for use with switches, and you don't have to worry about
safety, because they work from little batteries. They will work directly from
a switch, or through a commercial Control Unit. Later in this booklet I shall
describe in detail the methods we use.
Booklet reproduced with kind permission of Chris Addis and