About Switch Access Measure
A two-day training course and post-course on-line assessment for clinicians, therapists, educators and researchers who wish to become certified users of the Switch Access Measure is now available.
The Switch Access Measure is an evolving assessment tool to assess how people living with disability are interacting with assistive technology and switch access devices and equipment.
It is being researched and developed by Novita in association with world-renowned outcome measure expert in the area of paediatric rehabilitation, Professor Virginia Wright of the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto, and University of Toronto.
The Switch Access Measure provides an overall view of a user’s motor skills, visual skills and process skills when using switch access technology.
Assessors must be certified to use the Switch Access Measure, which has the potential to deliver better outcomes for people living with disability and their families.
The next training course will be conducted in Perth in late September.
What are switches?
Switches are assistive technology interfaces used by people living with physical disability that can be used for a range of different purposes, including accessing technology for communication, accessing the internet for research and school work as well as social media, controlling a powered wheelchair, and controlling lighting and appliances in the home.
Switches vary in design and purpose depending on how the user activates them using part of their bodies including hands, head, elbows, and feet. For some users, using switches, eliminates the need to use a computer keyboard or mouse. Accessing switches can help to deliver critical independence for people living with disability.
How does Switch Access Measure work?
The Switch Access Measure involves making a video of a switch user undertaking a task or activity. Every attempt is made to ensure the activity being videoed is goal-based and well-targeted to the user’s interests and abilities so that the best possible assessment can be made.
The video is reviewed by a certified Switch Access Measure assessor who assesses against criteria relating to the user’s motor, visual and process (cognitive) skills. For example, the assessment criteria for the user’s motor skills include:
- accurately contacts switch
- applies appropriate force to switch.
Clinicians score the user against the assessment criteria from 0-4:
4 = Good skill effectiveness and efficiency (competent)
3 = Minimal issues with skill effectiveness and efficiency (10-19% of time = “occasionally”)
2 = Moderately reduced/inconsistent skill effectiveness and efficiency (20-69% of time = “regularly”
1 = Markedly to severely limited skill effectiveness and efficiency (>70% = “frequently to continuously”)
0 = Not observed
Benefits of the Switch Access Measure
The Switch Access Measure gives an overall picture of the user’s motor, visual and process (cognitive) skills when interacting with switch access technology and devices.
It provides evidence that can use to determine the user’s strengths and weaknesses and to recommend and develop targeted priorities for intervention. For example, seating can often be a focus, because poor seating can influence other skills. It can also provide evidence and data to justify funding for assistive technology.
Ultimately, the Switch Access Measure aims to deliver better outcomes for users and their families.
Switch Access Measure developers
The Switch Access Measure has been developed by Novita in association with Professor Virginia Wright. It has undergone initial research and development with good reliability outcomes (see references below), with further research planned soon.
Professor Virginia Wright BScPT, PhD
Dr Virginia Wright is a registered paediatric physiotherapist and Senior Clinician Scientist at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto, Canada, and holds the Bloorview Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Paediatric Rehabilitation. She is a Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto and an Associate Member of CanChild, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. Virginia leads the SPARK (Supporting Physical Activity-based rehabilitation Research for Kids) Lab in the Bloorview Research Institute at Holland Bloorview. Her research is grounded in her experience as a physiotherapist and outcome measures co-ordinator, and guided by her close links with several paediatric rehabilitation teams at Holland Bloorview. Her clinical research centres on development and validation of outcome measures for use in paediatric rehabilitation (cerebral palsy, prosthetics, and acquired brain injury in particular), as well as on mixed methods evaluations (RCT + qualitative inquiry) evaluations of a variety of physical activity interventions for children. She has partnered with the Novita to develop the Switch Access Measure.
Dr Toan Nguyen BScBEng (Biomedical) (Hons), MEng (Research), PhD
Toan’s primary research focus over the past 10 years has been investigating and developing telecommunications and assistive technology solutions for children and adults with physical limitations. Toan has extensive research knowledge and experience in the fields of disability, assistive technologies, accessible telecommunications, and Universal Design principles. Toan is one of the investigators involved in determining the reliability and validity of the Switch Access Measure.
Annabelle Tilbrook (course presenter) BA, BOccThy (Hons)
Annabelle has more than 25 years’ experience working as an Occupational Therapist in the area of paediatric disability both in Australia and in the UK. Annabelle has assistive technology expertise with the past 20 years spent working as a Senior Occupational Therapist in a specialist assistive technology service at Novita in Adelaide, Australia. Her role has been to provide assessment, training and support to children and adults with physical disabilities and their families and consultative support to other clinicians and educators. She has a strong interest in achieving best practice outcomes for clients using switching technologies.
Nguyen, T., Tilbrook, A., Sanderlance, M., Wright, V. (2018), “Determining the Reliability and Validity of the Novita Switch Access Solutions Assessment”, Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 60 (51), 34