Our Blog

June 26, 2015 - Updates for Special Stories, Words and Numbers

As well as launching a new website and video this week, we've been busy updating apps!

We released new versions of Special Stories, Special Words and Special Numbers a few days ago for iOS devices. We hope to have updates for Android available soon.

Barbara has designed a great new icon for each app, to better match our other apps. We haven't changed the look of the apps inside, but we have made some improvements:

Special Stories

Now even easier to use!

  • To save a new page without having to record sound, or to remove audio from an existing page, tap the No Sound button
  • To jump to any page when reading a story, tap the page number in the bar at the top, and a table of contents will drop down
  • To prevent little fingers from revealing the table of contents, press and hold the padlock for 3 seconds
  • We've made corrections to the text in Catalan, Dutch, French, Italian and Turkish

Special Words

Various improvements

  • Some bugs affecting the positioning of buttons and menus are now fixed
  • We've made corrections to the text in Catalan, Dutch, French, Italian and Turkish

Special Numbers

Various improvements

  • The blue arrow buttons now appear correctly if you have selected a non-white background
  • We've made corrections to the text in Catalan, French and Turkish
  • We are working to add Dutch and Swedish translations, and hope to include these in another update soon

June 25, 2015 - Durham Couple see Business go Global

Durham couple see their Special iApps business go global

Published today in UK newspaper The Journal:

A family business inspired by a couple’s quest to find educational apps for their disabled child is now seeing its products used in more than 100 countries around the world...

Read the complete article

June 23, 2015 - We have Moved!

Special iApps has a brand new home on the Internet, here at www.specialiapps.org.

Meet the Team

We have made it much easier to find information:

  • Better layout, on computers, phones and tablets
  • Simpler navigation (on phones, use Menu button)
  • Links to Apple App Store and Google Play

To download an app, tap the relevant store button, and select from the drop-down list.

Many pages are available in several languages:

  • English (UK and US)
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Dutch
  • Norwegian

and we will be adding more soon.

If you have any bookmarks or favourites pointing to our old .co.uk or .com sites, they will be redirected to the new one.

Our new email address is support@specialiapps.org (old addresses will still reach us) and we are still @specialiapps on social media.

We hope you like the new site. Let us know what you think!

Bev, Colin, Barbara, Catherine and the children

May 15, 2015 - We won Best Diversity Resource Award!

Barbara, Colin and Bev after receiving the EiDA award

We spent an amazing night at the Manchester Midland Hotel, where the Excellence in Diversity Awards 2015 were being held. We sat amongst so many inspiring people, who are working tirelessly to promote diversity and inclusion in the UK.

We were thrilled to be announced winner in the Best Diversity Award category! This is in recognition of the contribution our apps have made to teaching children with disabilities.

As Colin said in his acceptance speech, this wouldn't have been possible without all the time and effort that so many people have put in, to help and support us.

So we'd like to dedicate the award to all our volunteers around the world. Thanks to you, we have apps that are making a difference to so many children around the world, in their own language.

We are very grateful to the award organisers, sponsors and judges, for honouring us with this award.

More about our nomination

May 5, 2015 - Excellence in Diversity Awards

Congratulations to Colin for being shortlisted for The Diversity Champion Award for Education at The Excellence in Diversity Awards 2015!

Special iApps has also been shortlisted for the Best Diversity Resource Award.

Colin, Bev and Barbara will be at the award ceremony in Manchester on May 14. Wish us luck!

More about Colin's nomination

April 2, 2015 - Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from Special iApps!

Happy Easter to everybody from all of us at Special iApps!

We have 8 new drawings with an Easter theme. These are available as FREE downloadable add-ons for our Special Words and Special Stories apps.

They don't include written or spoken words, but you can have fun adding your own.

Find out more

March 17, 2015 - World Down Syndrome Day Competition

Lots of Socks in Special Words

March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD). Down Syndrome International encourages groups around the world to celebrate, raise awareness and fundraise. For more information, visit the World Down Syndrome Day website or social media.

The theme of WDSD 2015 is LOTS OF SOCKS, and to join in we have created some FREE add-ons for Special Words and Special Stories. They include drawings of 20 pairs of odd socks, each accompanied by the word “socks” written and spoken in a different language, by some of our many volunteer translators from around the world.

Can you identify all the languages? You could win a free app!

(Competition now closed)

Find out more

March 9, 2015 - Some Useful Resources

New Zealand's Inclusive Education Guides for Schools have a section on Down syndrome and learning. This includes lots of great strategies, suggestions and resources. We particularly like the video Successful Strategies for Beginning Readers with Down Syndrome from the Down Syndrome Research Foundation in Canada.

Jane Farrall in Australia has just updated her Switch Accessible Apps List. This includes all 9 of our switch-enabled apps, and nearly 100 from other developers.

Spanish speakers may be interested in the education category on the Familia y Discapacidad website, which has a list of some good apps in Spanish.

January 28, 2015 - On set at ITV's Emmerdale

Harvey, who plays Leo in Emmerdale, learning with Special Words between scenes

Harvey Rogerson plays Leo Goskirk, son of Rhona Goskirk and and Marlon Dingle, in the ITV series Emmerdale.

Here he is learning with our Special Words app between his scenes.

Harvey, who has Down syndrome, also has Special Stories and Special Numbers on his iPad.

Many thanks to his Mum, Alison, for letting us use this photo.

Does anybody else have a nice picture of their son or daughter using our apps they can share with us?

January 12, 2015 - Touch-Numbers

Updated versions of Touch-Numbers are now available for Apple iPad and iPhone, and Android tablets and phones, with a new language, Italian.

Thanks to Laura Marsiliani for lending us her voice, as also heard in our Special Numbers and Special Words apps.

Touch-Numbers is a fun app for kids who are learning to rote count by touching and speaking the numbers in order. This is an essential step before moving on to understanding quantities.

To follow on, Special Numbers has a variety of activities to help learn much more about numbers, and you can easily adapt this as your child's confidence and ability grow.

Find out more

January 9, 2015 - App Store Price Changes

Today Apple increased the prices of all paid apps in countries including Canada, Norway and the whole of the European Union, to reflect recent changes in exchange rates and taxes. To minimise the effect on our customers, we have adjusted the prices of our apps to compensate as far as we can.

All app developers have to assign each of their paid apps to a “price tier”. In the US, the price in each tier is 1¢ less than the tier number, so for example tier 14 is $13.99. Apple sets prices for all other countries based on this, and adjusts them from time to time, using exchange rates and rounding. So, before today, tier 14 was £9.99 (UK) and 12.99 € (Euro Zone), but now it is £10.49 and 13.99 €.

Unfortunately, we cannot set the price for each country individually, so instead we have moved Special Words, Special Stories, Special Numbers and Match & Find down one tier. This reverses their price changes in the UK and Euro Zone. Unfortunately, Apple has raised prices in Canada, Denmark, Norway and Sweden by larger amounts, so we can only partly offset these increases.

The good news, if you are not in any of the affected countries, is that the prices have come down: for instance, by $1.00 in the US and in Australia.

We always try to keep our costs to a minimum (Special iApps is a nonprofit organisation), and we will hold our prices for as long as we can.

January 5, 2015 - Special Numbers

Numeri Speciali

Happy new year to everyone!

Our first app update of 2015 is for Special Numbers:

  • Includes a much-requested Italian translation (Numeri Speciali)
  • Optimised for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
  • New animal images, as in our Match & Find app
  • We've fixed some bugs (affecting iPhone and iPad)

Many thanks to Laura Marsiliani and Stefan Renstrom for their help with the Italian translation. The voice is Laura's, the same as in our Special Words app (Parole Speciali). Special Stories is also available in Italian (Storie Speciali).

Find out more

December 21, 2014 - Christmas and Holiday

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Special iApps!

We would like to wish you Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and anything else you are celebrating at this time of year!

This month is the first anniversary of our winning an award for Special Words in the Vodafone Foundation Mobile for Good Europe Awards. Since then, we've found several new volunteer translators in countries as far apart as Brazil and Ukraine. We are planning to add Italian and Swedish to Special Numbers early in 2015.

Between December 24, 2014 and January 1, 2015 we will be operating a reduced support service. However, if Santa bring you a tablet or smartphone, and you're stuck using any of our apps, send us an email and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

Thank you to everybody who has downloaded our apps in 2014, and everyone who has helped us develop, translate and test them. We hope you and your children have a happy, healthy and peaceful 2015.

Bev, Colin, Barbara, and our children

December 2, 2014 - Christmas and Holiday

Tree Snowman

Barbara has made 24 lovely drawings with a Christmas and Holiday theme. These are available as FREE downloadable add-ons for our Special Words and Special Stories apps.

Find out more

November 25, 2014 - Special Stories

In Special Stories, you can choose to use large or small text, in any available font face. In an update we've released today for Apple devices, you can now also have the text left-aligned (also called left-justified) instead of centred.

The default large and centred text is ideal for very first stories with only a single word or a short phrase on each page. However, as your child progresses to reading longer sentences, you may prefer to use smaller and left-aligned text.

Note that these settings don't modify any stories, they simply change how all stories are viewed. However, if you print a story, or export it as a PDF or to iBooks, the resulting copy is always produced using your current settings.

We have also optimised the new version of Special Stories for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and enlarged the box for entering text on all iPhones and iPads.

Find out more

November 13, 2014 - Durham iPad Project

Results from the Durham iPad Project

Lots of apps claim to have educational benefit, but not all have evidence.

The Durham iPad Project evaluated our Special Words app in school and pre-school settings across County Durham in the UK (equivalent to a school district in the US) over a term (trimester), with children aged 3-7 years, who had a range of communication, language and literacy difficulties, and demonstrated big gains.

Find out more

November 10, 2014 - Special Words

Updated versions of our award-winning Special Words app are now available on the App Store and Google Play:

  • A number of people have asked us if we could make it possible to shuffle all the cards, not just the ones on each page, so we have. Just go to the app's settings (accessible from the Word List), and set Shuffle Cards to All. If you're not sure whether your child can read the words, or is just remembering where they are, this will tell you!
  • We have also optimised the Apple app for the iPhone 6, and fixed a problem preventing the Android app working correctly on the latest version of Android (5.0).

Find out more

November 2, 2014 - Discount on Training Workshops!

We can come to you to run a hands-on workshop about apps, iPads and other tablets (currently in the UK only) covering:

  • Getting the most out of our apps
  • Finding other good apps
  • Using your device's accessibility features
  • Securing data, backup and recovery

We are offering a 30% discount on all workshops booked before the end of 2014 (even if held in 2015).

More about Workshops

October 24, 2014 - App Updates Coming Soon!

Here are some updates we will be bringing you in the next few weeks:

By popular demand, we're extending the "Shuffle Cards" facility in Special Words so that you'll have the option of shuffling the whole set of cards, not just the 4 cards on each page. This will be really helpful if you want to assess or demonstrate how many words your child knows, while being sure they're not just remembering which cards are on each page.

We're busy optimising Special Words, Special Stories and Special Numbers for the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, so they'll look really sharp and crisp. We will continue to fully support older iPhones as far back as the 3GS.

We are also working to add Italian and Swedish translations you've asked for to Special Numbers (Special Words and Special Stories already support these languages and many more).

As always, full details about all our apps, including user guides, can be found on this website. If you have any questions or suggestions, please get in touch!

October 19, 2014 - Special Stories

Updated versions of Special Stories are now available for Apple and Android devices, with 2 new languages, Portuguese (Brazil) and Swedish.

Cinthia Azevedo, who translated Special Words for us, has kindly contributed the Portuguese translation.

Our newest volunteer translator, Stefan Renstrom, has provided the Swedish, and will be helping us with Swedish and Italian translations of other apps, so watch this space!

Many thanks to Cinthia and Stefan.

We have also fixed a few bugs, including making the audio come out of the main speaker instead of the ear speaker when editing pages on iPhones running iOS 7 and 8.

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