Here’s Aaron’s simple but effective solution:
I’ve got a work-supplied iPhone 3GS with a broken lock switch — at both extremes of movement it sets to ‘unmute’, with ‘mute’ being in the middle somehow, where the switch will not stay put. Rather than bother the IT department when they have more important things to do, I’ve found a workaround using a setting I didn’t know existed before exploring iOS 5. Under Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Triple-Click Home -> check the set to ‘AssistiveTouch’ option.
AssistiveTouch is an interesting feature on its own, creating a persistent semi-transparent dot on the screen that enables triggering gestures and settings with a one-tap-at-a-time interface. In this case, I’m interested in the ‘Device’ section of that menu, where I can override the mute/unmute setting regardless of the broken physical switch on the side. And to save digging into the accessibility menu every time I want to toggle it, now I can just triple-click the home button. It’s been very helpful, although now I need to find another excuse to get a newer model.
It’s a fairly specific fix, but a useful trick to bear in mind. Thanks Aaron!