Our Blog

March 26, 2014 - Updated Special Numbers

An updated version of Special Numbers is now available on the Apple App Store. This fixes some bugs, including one that prevented its Into The Box activity working correctly on some iOS 7 devices, and also improves the smoothness of animations on older devices.

March 22, 2014 - Match & Find released

Our new Match & Find app for the Apple iPad is now available to download from the App Store. We'd like to thank everybody who has helped us to develop and test the app. This first version is in English only (with both UK and US voices), but we are currently working on French, Spanish and Catalan translations, and hope to add more languages in later updates.

Find out more

March 3, 2014 - Coming soon: Match & Find

Our latest app, Match & Find, will soon be available for the Apple iPad!

Designed to help develop and improve young children’s matching, searching, ordering and memory skills.

Find out more

January 22, 2014 - Special Stories review

Great review by Small But Kinda Mighty showing Special Stories in use, also with video that explains how to transfer the stories you've created to iBooks:

Read the review

December 23, 2013 - Seasons Greetings!

Seasons Greetings from Special iApps

December 21, 2013 - Updates for Android

Updated versions of Special Words and Special Stories are now available for Android. Both have been updated to support Android 4.4, and have some minor bug fixes.

In Special Stories, if your tablet or phone is running Android 4.4, you can now print directly to Android-compatible printers (e.g. with HP ePrint printers or using Google Cloud Print), rather than having to email stories as PDF files in order to print them from elsewhere.

Download Special Words for Android

Download Special Stories for Android

December 19, 2013 - Touch apps for Android

Our 5 “Touch” apps are now available for Android tablets and phones on Google Play.

These are very simple cause-and-effect apps to help children who may not yet be ready to use our more advanced apps including the highly-acclaimed Special Words.

Pricing is the same as for the Apple versions:

  • Touch-Words and Touch-Numbers are $1.99 (US, Canada, Australia), £1.49 (UK), 1.79 € (Euro).
  • Touch-Colours and Touch-Shapes are only 99¢ (US, Canada, Australia), 69p (UK), 89c (Euro).
  • Touch-Emotions is a FREE app!

Touch-Words includes pictures and words from the See and Learn Language and Reading programme of activities devised and published by Down Syndrome Education International.

Find out more

December 8, 2013 - Touch apps updates

Updated versions of Touch-Colours, Touch-Shapes and Touch-Emotions are now available. These now include Spanish and Catalan translations, kindly provided by Marta Montserrat. So all our apps now support both of these languages. Touch-Colours is also now spelled correctly in Australian English.

Find out more

December 7, 2013 - European award

On Wednesday, Bev and Colin travelled to Belgium for the finals in Brussels of the Vodafone Foundation Mobile for Good Europe Awards.

Having made it to the finals with our Special Words app, on Thursday morning we presented it to an international panel of judges, and had to wait nervously for the awards ceremony in the evening to find out how we'd done.

We are delighted and overwhelmed to have been awarded second place in the Education category, with a prize of € 15,000 (US $ 20,000) to help us continue to develop the app and to reach more children.

We would very much like to thank the awards sponsors, judges and organisers. Our thanks go out also to everyone who has downloaded Special Words and everybody who has helped us develop it.

November 25, 2013 - More Touch apps

Three new apps in our “Touch” collection are available from today on the App Store: Touch-Colours (Touch-Colors in the US), Touch-Shapes and Touch-Emotions.

Touch-Colours and Touch-Shapes are priced at 99¢ (US, Canada, Australia), 69p (UK), 89c (Euro).

Touch-Emotions is a FREE app!

Find out more

November 19, 2013 - Spanish & Catalan downloads

Our free downloadable add-on resources for Special Words and Special Stories are now available in Spanish and Catalan.

Many thanks to Marta Montserrat for providing the translations and audio recordings.

Find out more

November 18, 2013 - New app: Touch-Numbers

We have today released Touch-Numbers, the second in our collection of “Touch” apps. This is a simple cause-and-effect app for children who are just starting to learn about numbers, and who may not yet be ready to move on to our Special Numbers app. It includes pictures and sounds for the numbers 0 to 20.

Like Touch-Words, this is available for the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch at $1.99 (US, Canada, Australia), £1.49 (UK), 1.79 € (Euro).

This first version supports 5 languages: English (American and British), Catalan, French and Spanish. We're hoping to add more languages soon.

We have also released a minor update to Touch-Words today, to make its sliding animation smoother.

We plan to release 3 more “Touch” apps before the end of the year: Touch-Colours, Touch-Shapes and Touch-Emotions. Watch this space!

Find out more

November 13, 2013 - US English & French downloads

Our free downloadable add-on resources for Special Words and Special Stories (word lists and stories about colours, shapes, emotions, cars) are now available in new US English and French versions, alongside the existing UK English and Croatian.

Thanks to Kelly Smith and Christelle Yong, who came to visit us this week to record the US and French words. These are the same two ladies who recorded the original US and French audio in Special Words and Special Numbers.

We have also re-recorded the Emotions add-on for UK English, with voice of a new volunteer, Andrea Lyons. Bev and Colin's son Joseph has been the UK voice of many of our apps and resources since we started, but now his voice has broken he doesn't sound quite the same! Many thanks Joseph for all your help during the last two years.

Find out more

November 5, 2013: Finnish Special Stories

Our latest updates to Special Stories for Apple and Android devices are now available on the App Store and on Google Play.

We have added a Finnish translation, kindly provided by Mikko Valorinta (who also contributed the Finnish translation for Special Words that we added in September).

The new version for Apple devices also includes a scrolling fix for displaying pages with lots of text on iOS 7.

October 27, 2013 - Croatian downloads

Our free downloadable add-on resources include word lists for Special Words and stories for Special Stories.

Thanks to help from Dinka Vukovic, Helena Knezic and Danijel Skrbin, our Colours & Shapes, Cars, and Emotions downloads are now also available in Croatian.

Find out more

On Monday we also released an update to Special Words for Apple devices, to fix a crash on iOS 7 when adding the first new word to an empty profile.

October 16, 2013 - New app: Touch-Words

We're excited to announce that our latest app Touch-Words is now available for the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch!

Priced at only $1.99 (US, Canada, Australia), £1.49 (UK), 1.79 € (Euro).

Touch-Words is a simple to use cause-and-effect app for children who are at the first stage of learning to talk and to read, and who may not yet be ready to use our Special Words app. Touch each picture to see and hear the word.

Like Special Words, Touch-Words contains images from the First Word Pictures step of the See and Learn Language and Reading programme, published by Down Syndrome Education International, and includes written and spoken words in 19 languages.

Find out more

September 30, 2013 - Switch support

Those of you who use the iPad with assistive switches may have heard about the great new support for these that Apple has built into iOS 7. This is very comprehensive, allowing the user to operate most apps as well as select apps from the Home Screen, access the Control Center, and more. There is a really helpful blog by Jane Farrall with videos that explains this in detail.

Our Special Words and Special Stories apps already have their own switch support, that's fully compatible with iOS 5 and 6 as well as iOS 7. We designed this to be much simpler than the general switch support in iOS 7, with less presses required, and it is intended for where the switch user can play a game or navigate a story, but with another person supporting them to start the app and select the game or story.

With iOS 7, you can now choose to use either of these options with your switches, whichever suits you best. We have updated the Assistive Switches chapters in our Special Words User Guide and Special Stories User Guide to explain this more fully.

Our Special Numbers app doesn't yet support switches, but we are looking into this.

September 16, 2013 - iOS 7

This coming Wednesday, Apple will release iOS 7, a significantly different new version of the operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. For full details see Apple's web site.

We're very pleased to announce that after 3 months of hard work we have today released updates for all 3 of our apps. These are designed to work on iOS 5, 6 and 7. If you use them on iOS 5 or 6, they look like they always have done, but on iOS 7 they have an updated look.

  • Please update to the latest versions of our apps: older versions are not compatible with iOS 7. If you are still using iOS 4, unfortunately we can no longer support this.

  • Although the updates to iOS and to our apps should be seamless, and preserve your data and settings, we recommend backing up any valuable personal data in our apps before updating anything. You can use the Export Word List facility in Special Words, and Export Story in Special Stories, to email copies of your data to somewhere else safe.

  • A new feature of iOS 7 is that swiping up from the bottom of the screen reveals its new Control Center. For children who are easily distracted, and for those with poor fine motor skills, we recommend turning off Access Within Apps for the Control Center using Apple's Settings app.

  • If you are unsure of anything and would like some advice, please don't hesitate to contact us.

As well as updating for iOS 7, we have made some additional changes to our apps:

  • We've added some new objects for some of the activities in Special Numbers. As well as the existing balls and animals, you can now choose flowers, pencils and bugs (spiders, snails, worms, bees and other little creatures).

  • Special Words now includes a Bulgarian translation (thanks to Daniela Vtuhova, Joana Valcheva, Viktor Gornakov and Tony Marinova), and a Finnish translation (thanks to Mikko Valorinta and his niece). A new version of Special Words for Android is also now available, with these 2 new translations.

  • iOS 7 now supports Australian English as a language. If you select this in the Settings app on your device, then any profiles in Special Words will use its Australian voice automatically, provided they have their language set to Default. Similarly, iOS 7 now has a Español (México) language, and using this will select the existing Spanish (Spain) voice in Special Words.

  • When you take a photo using the iPad camera in Special Stories or Special Words on iOS 7, the photo preview window is now shown full screen instead of in a smaller window.

September 5, 2013 - Pinterest

You can now find us on Pinterest, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. See the Contact page on our website for all the ways to keep in touch with us.

Special iApps on Pinterest

September 1, 2013 - Celebration party

September 1st marks our anniversary, it's 2 years since we released our first app Special Words on the Apple App Store in 2011. Now in 2013 we have Special Words, Special Stories and Special Numbers available from iTunes for the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch as well as Special Stories and Special Words available from Google Play for a multitude of Android smartphones and tablets.

Over 11,000 of our apps have been downloaded worldwide, which we think is pretty amazing. People ask us how many children have benefited from our apps but we simply don't know the answer as each may be used by one child, or in a household with siblings or in a classroom or by a therapist and used not just for young children but teenagers and adults with a variety of abilities and disabilities and individual needs.

Our first app download was in New Zealand. Today our apps are being used in over 54 Countries and more than 17 Languages. We have volunteers who help translate, so if you know of anyone who can help please ask them to get in touch. Translators don't have to be local to us: Welsh was recorded and translated in Wales, Spanish and Catalan in Barcelona, and Albanian, Croatian along with Turkish recorded many miles from our base here in the North East of England.

We celebrated at the Alan Shearer Centre in 2011 at the very beginning of this journey. The centre is one of our son William's favourite places as he's spent many times playing in the ball pool. He even sat on Alan Shearer's lap when the centre was officially opened, appearing on UK national TV and was front-page news with the famous footballer in 2008. So it was a fitting choice as we wanted to mark the occasion, support this charity, and thank those who have supported and helped us start our own social enterprise.

Last year the most memorable part of our celebration was our cake (pictured on our invitation). It was an amazing creation designed and hand made by Kelly at Kelly Ann’s whose voice you’d recognise as she is American English voice in all of our apps. Everyone enjoyed the cake, some sampling all three delicious options: chocolate, vanilla as well as the dairy & wheat free top tier. The cake even featured in Cerebra’s Newsbeat magazine on p.22-23.

So our annual celebration has now become a tradition and this invitation goes out so that we can mark our second anniversary: please join us if you can!

Bev, Colin and Barbara

August 12, 2013 - Croatian Special Words

Updated versions of Special Words are now available for both iOS and Android, including a Croatian translation (Posebne riječi). Our thanks go to Dinka Vukovic, Vladimir Brnardić, Igor Fiolic, Helena Knezic, Jadranka Loncar and Danijel Skrbin for making this possible. Our Special Stories app already includes a Croatian translation (Posebne priče), also contributed by Dinka and Jadranka.

There are now 17 voices in Special Words, all provided by volunteers from around the world, and we hope to add some others soon so we can help even more children.

On Android, the update also includes a fix for a problem transferring data between devices using Bluetooth, and we have also released a new version of Special Stories for Android with the same fix.

July 13, 2013 - Special Stories for Android

We have today launched Special Stories for Android on Google Play! This has the same features as the Apple version apart from exporting to iBooks, and printing directly from the device (but you can email a story as a PDF from Android and then print it from a PC or Mac).

Read the User Guide

We have also released an updated version of Special Words for Android today, with some bug fixes.

You can now transfer words, pictures and sounds between the two apps on the same Android tablet or smartphone. You can also transfer stories between Special Stories on Android and Special Stories on Apple devices, via email.

Download the app

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