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Adaptive Technology Terminology

Here's some information on technology terms.

Wiring connections and sizes: 

Typically you will see wiring devices with either a female or a male end on the wire. The male end is usually called a Plug and the female end is usually called a Jack. I like to think or the old fashioned telephone operator sitting in front of a large panel of Phone Jacks and when she is switching a call she inserts the Plug into the Jack on the panel. The primary sizes of connections seen in our industry are 3.5 Millimeter, also called a 1/8 inch, and the larger ¼ inch (sometimes called an RCA plug or jack). If you have a switch or device with the older ¼” RCA jack or plug, we sell adapters to bring them from the large size down to the 1/8” smaller size that is typically used today.


Female end versus male ends: 

The rule of thumb is that toys/devices usually have a female connection on them, either on the end of a wire or built into the toy or device as a jack (typically called a surface or chassis jack) and switches have the male end on them for mating to the toy/device being switched. This allows the switch to plug into the toy or device. When plugging in a switch, make sure there is no gap between the plug and the jack. They should fit snugly together. Otherwise, you'll have a bad connection and the device you are switching will not work.



Switches come in a variety of styles, sizes, and colors. We happen to carry several styles of switches. Usually the choice of switch is dependent on the user and the circumstance of the use. Brightly colored switches are best for individuals with limited attention, CVI, or visual impairments. For users with poor motor skills who can’t accurately locate a smaller target area, try a switch with a larger surface area such as the BigRed Switch. If fine motor skills are intact, you can look at a switch with a smaller surface area. Our Switch It Up! is perfect for switch users with adequate ability to locate a 3” surface and apply a moderate amount of pressure. For individuals with extremely limited movement (such as SMA, ALS) try a micro switch such as our MicroSwitch or Micro Light. Some switch users can’t use their hands. So, other switch placements must be explored. There are chin switches, pillow switches (which are great for head activations, especially while in bed), and many other switch types. If you have a special situation and can’t decide which switch would be best, contact us for assistance. 

Battery interrupters:

Battery interrupters allow the adaption of a toy to be switched by interrupting the battery supply. Simply insert our battery interrupter between "AA", "AAA", "C", or "D" batteries to make most items switch activated. This is a great option if you have a favorite toy or vocational-related device that needs to be adapted. They work with simple devices run when you flip the on/off switch to the "on" position. They do not work on toys or devices that are squeezed activated or that require you to push a switch after switching them on, or remote controlled toys. Choose the size based on the battery size your device uses.  

                                              battery interrupters

Use care when inserting the adapter so that you do not put pressure where the wires are connected to the disk. Use a triangle file to make a notch in the battery compartment door to allow the battery interrupter wires to pass through without being crimped once the battery compartment door is closed. 

On occasion you may run across a battery compartment that is tight and won't allow the adapter to slide in. In these instances, the metal disk on the battery interrupter can be cut using heavy duty scissors or garden shears to make the interrupter fit. Watch the battery interrupter video to learn more.