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                      getting the most out of talking switches


    1. Introduction
    2. Types of Talking Switches - Single Messages
    3. Types of Talking Switches - Sequenced Messages
    4. Creating and Using Social Scripts with Sequenced Talking Switches
    5. Using Talking Switches to Access Toys and Appliances for Fun and Motivating Communication
    6. Literacy Activities using Talking Switches
    7. Other Talking Switch Resources


    Explore the pages in this self-directed module at your own pace. If you are new to the Talking Switches, we recommend reading each page in linear order - or you can explore only the pages and topics that interest you. This module was authored by Mary Beth Dorsey and Deborah Lesher, two SLPs and AAC specialists with our Orthopedic Impairment team.


    Did you know that many children who use AAC are passive communicators who initiate few interactions, respond infrequently, produce a limited number of communicative functions, and use a restricted number of linguistic forms (Light, Collier, and Parnes, 1985)

    How can we give these students opportunities for more turn-taking and opportunities to communicate in meaningful conversations? Talking switches can be a great tool to consider as an addition to some students' communication systems.

    Talking switches playback recorded speech when activated and provide students with complex communication needs (CCN) a means to convey a wide range of messages such as:

    • Greeting peers See the source image    

    • Giving directions

    • Cheering on a friend

    • Offering compliments

    • Telling a joke
    • Interviewing peers and others


    big mac talking switch Talking switches are often limited to only teaching children to request “more.” We created this module to emphasize that talking switches can be used in so many more fun and interactive ways!

    Talking switches like the single-message BIGmack and the sequenced multiple message Step-by-Step are light-tech communication tools frequently used in many classrooms and other educational settings.

    Their ease of programming and versatility make them wonderful tools to add to a student’s communication toolbox for use within a variety of communicative, social and academic settings.

    The purpose of this module is to provide basic information on the various types of talking switches, how-to guidance, and ideas about using talking switches to increase social participation throughout the day and ensure communication is fun, interactive, motivating and meaningful!


    Many SLPs and teachers limit their use of talking switches to teaching “I want…” or “more.” Yet talking switches are much more flexible and can be used in many creative and fun ways that go beyond simple requesting. We hope this is a key take-away from this module!


    This module reviews a variety of practical and creative approaches for using talking switches for communication, play, social engagement, literacy and academic activities. Let's get started! Click on the "next page" icon below to continue.

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    If you are looking for equipment, you can view AAC devices and talking switches available for checkout at CRP via our online equipment catalog. 

    Our specialists with the Orthopedic Impairment (OI) team are available to answer questions and consult regarding regionally eligible students.