Education Department: Communication Switch Research
North Penn High School the special education
department is in need of communication
switches. Communication switches are used by
students who have trouble communicating with
words. The switches mainly consist of a
recording device, battery pack, on and off
switch, volume control, and a single large
button to activate the prerecorded message.
Students with special needs can use these
buttons in many ways. Students can then
press the “Break button” when they need to
rest from an activity. They can press the
“work button” when they are ready to work,
and the “snack button” when they would like
small snack. When they press one of the
buttons, the support staff that is working
with them either gives them a short break,
some work to do, or a snack. Depending on
the goal of the learning period.
There are endless responses that can be
used. We have a button that when pressed
says “I need to use the bathroom”, and
buttons that simply answer “yes” or “no”.
These switches can go for about $175 to over
$300 online and in catalogs. Our goal
is to use the resources we have here at
North Penn and make our very own
communication switches for the students with
special needs in our school community. I
know that our students would definitely
enjoy and benefit from being included during
the building, testing, and redesigning
Problem Statement 1:
Speech buttons are too expensive and don't
have the proper buttons available to ask all
Problem Statement 2:
Many students with disabilities at North
Penn High School have difficulty
Communication Switch Design and
Design, bread boarding, and prototyping, Special
Education department test and review
Mr. Pellechia discusses communication challenges with some students in the
Special Education department.
Sample communication switch.
Sample dual channel communication switch.
EPICS student research team showing Mr. Pellechia their progress
Students design and experimentation with the audio amplifier portion of
Voice recording circuit.
Several students from the communication switch research team!
Case design, prototyping, Special Education
Printed circuit board
wiring, final construction
Special Education students test and verification