Switch Input Devices
for Early Learning and Special Needs

Our concept designs all provide simple switch inputs, which enable the user to move an object on-screen or navigate a user interface, just like using a joystick or a mouse. The system is also compatible with two-switch operation for more specialised software.

A good switch connector must be solid and robust. It must also have a simple but firm and reliable alignment needing only a pull to release; latches or screws risk damaging the connectors or cabling if given a careless yank.

The Holdfast switch connection is therefore based on the old 9-pin D-connector standard, once popular for 'Atari' compatible joysticks. For modern computers, Atari-to-USB adapters are widely available.

Please note that large quantities are no longer available. We have a small number of units that we can provide for demonstration and trial purposes. For modern PCs you will need your own adapter or controller, such as an Atari-to-USB adapter.

See also our keyboard concepts.


Our robust Joypad is designed for Early Learners and Special Needs, and also finds use wherever a friendly, robust controller is needed:

  • Well-spaced, 'feely' keys for small hands, wobbly fingers or gloves.
  • Bright attractive colours.
  • Robust design, 150 x 100 mm (6" x 4").
  • Handheld, tabletop or floor use.
  • Robust cabe visually associates user input to the display device.
  • No delicate parts exposed, no need for a special surface - even works on the carpet.

Small children can find mice, trackballs, keyboards and even gaming joypads too difficult to use. The Holdfast Joypad gets them interacting sooner, easing frustration and encouraging exploration.

The Joypad is also valuable in any situation where a simple, robust directional controller is needed.


The original JackBox connects up to five special input switches fitted with the tough old 1/4" (6.35mm) jack plugs, to any device which accepts Atari joystick input.

Other output connectors such as USB are envisaged. Wireless Bluetooth would require an internal battery.


The Joyball is a switch joystick with a big dome attached to the top of it. To use it you rock the dome back and forth. It has proved valuable for some special needs, where the user has no strength in their hands and cannot grasp a mouse, joystick or pen.

It also features two big, light-movement buttons which operate under the weight of even a small hand.

The Joyball is a third-party commercial gaming product. Its lack of robustness is not a problem for the intended users. Holdfast modify its connections slightly, to make it compatible with standard two-button input.

Holdfast Technologies, Park View, Queenhill, Upton-on-Severn, Worcs, WR8 0RE, United Kingdom.

Tel: +44 (0) 1684 594728         Email: holdfast@steelpillow.com

Updated 25 Aug 2020