PC and Mac Switch Accessible Menu Ideas

BBC Micro Switch Accessible programmes. 1995, 2000 Thurrock Care. Menu options include Yes, No and Dice. A Talk Type Work processor, a Number Generator and National Lottery programme, Biorhythms, a Musical Keyboard and HELP! and credits.

Here's a suggestion for making a switch accessible menu for a PC/Mac application/game, expanding upon my ancient system for a BBC Micro in the days when I used to programme a little bit.

1. Switch One (choose/select) = SPACE BAR, ENTER key and LEFT-CLICK.
2. Switch Two (move selector) = TAB and any key from A-Z.

Access methods: Allow access via one-switch, two-switch, keyboard methods. Ideally by mouse pointer too. Ensure joystick access is possible through JoyToKey. Some switch interfaces use adapted joypads.

Starting: Start the system using one-switch step scanning, that slowly steps through the available opening options. If the user manually moves the selector using switch two, then stop auto-step scanning. If the user taps the ESCAPE key once at the front menu screen, restart auto-step scanning. 

Exiting by keyboard: If at the front-menu in auto-scan mode and ESCAPE is pressed, quit everything. Otherwise ESCAPE should be a method to step backwards towards the main menu. 

Exiting by switch: Think about the needs of significantly learning disabled switch users versus the needs of the most able switch users. Ideally, give the most able one/two switch user a way to navigate all menus freely, and a way to quit the main switch accessible game/application too. This may be via a user-defined long-hold (not all can do this),  or morse-like taps, configurable from an options screen. Consider accidental triggering of this with a "are you sure you want to quit?" option. Very importantly, consider that all menus are a confusing distraction for the most learning disabled users. If you give an option to disable switch exiting from the main game/application, enabling the user to just keep playing until they become bored/want to do something else, you'll empower them too.

Speed adjustment: Give a way for the speed of the scanning to be adjusted from the keyboard (e.g. UP/DOWN cursor, or +, - keys) and also from a HELP! / Options system that is accessible using any of the access methods above. Use sounds and an indicator 

Quick access to menus: Numbering menu items, and making them accessible by that corresponding number (e.g. press key "3" to go straight to the Number Generator) can help general access for keyboard users.

Remember settings: For a single user, from the HELP/Options screen allow them to save their switch/scanning settings from a simple "SAVE these settings?" option. Consider a profile system for multiple-users.

Boosting access for those who cannot read English: Consider adding icons and/or speech options on each menu option, such as the common spanner/cog icon for options. Avoid complexity on the surface level options.

If you want to explore my old system (not perfect, but very usable) you'll need the BeebEm emulator, the EDU7 disk image and to press SHIFT then BREAK to boot the game in.

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