Android Switch Access

The most direct way to use a touchscreen is to, well, touch it, but that’s not something everyone can do. Android’s expansive accessibility tools can help you navigate around the phone with only your eyes and facial expressions.

Android includes a number of tools for people who can’t interact with touchscreens in the typical ways. Moving around with your voice is a big one, but you can also use your eyes and face with a tool called “Switch Access.”

RELATED: How to Activate Voice Access When Looking at Your Android Phone

To get started, swipe down from the top of the screen once or twice—depending on your phone—to reveal the Quick Settings menu. Select the gear icon to go to the system settings.

Next, select “Accessibility” from the settings.

Select "Accessibility."

Scroll down and find “Switch Access.” On a Samsung Galaxy phone, it will be under “Installed Services.”

Select "Switch Access."

Toggle “Switch Access” on if it’s not already enabled.

Toggle "Switch Access" on.

You’ll be asked to grant Switch Access full control of your device. This is required in order for it to navigate your phone. Tap “Allow” to proceed.

Give Switch Access full control.

Select “Camera Switch” as the switch type and tap “Next.”

Select "Camera Switch."

Next, it will ask to download data that is required for it to work. Tap “Download” to proceed.

Download the required data.

Now you can decide if you want one or two switches. This determines how many gestures you’ll be able to create. We recommend choosing “Two Switches,” then tap “Next.”

Select "Two Switches."

The next step is to choose how to scan, the one we want is “Linear Scanning.”

Select "Linear Scanning."

We can begin choosing the gestures for the different actions. First up is the “Next” action. Select one or more gestures you want to use and tap “Next.”

Pick a gesture for "Next."

Now pick one or more gestures for the “Select” action and tap “Next.”

Pick a gesture for "Select."

Lastly, select a gesture for “Pause.” You can use this whenever you want to stop what’s happening on the screen. Pick one or more gestures and tap “Next.”

Choose a gesture for "Pause."

That’s it for picking the gestures, you can give it a try now. You’ll notice a face at the very top of the screen. It’s red when your face isn’t detected, blue when it is. Look at the screen and try the gestures.

Here’s the gist of how it works. The gesture you assigned to “Next” can be used to navigate down the screen. Each time you do the gesture, it will highlight the next selectable item. See it in action in the below video from Google:

When you want to select that item, use the gesture you assigned to “Select.” Here’s how it works, also courtesy of Google:

There’s a lot you can do with the Camera Switches, it’s an incredibly powerful and useful set of tools. Watch Google’s walkthrough to see the full extent of what it can do.

Android has an impressive suite of accessibility features and this is just one example.

RELATED: How to Use Google Assistant's Action Blocks for Accessibility

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Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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