We are pleased to announce updated versions of Special Words and
Special Stories for iOS and Special Words for Android.
Special Words on both platforms now includes an Albanian translation,
kindly contributed by Kledjan and Emanuela Zaimi of Down Syndrome
We've also added to the assistive switch support in both iOS apps: as
well as recognising switch interfaces that send space
and enter, they now also respond to the
commonly-used ~1 and ~3.
There are also some bug fixes in these updates, including:
In both apps on iOS, if using the camera is disabled in Settings
> Restrictions, the Take Picture button is hidden
(previously, the button was visible but the app would crash if you
Earlier versions of Special Stories failed to delete old sound
files when re-recording sounds, so stories could use increasing
amounts storage space. This is now fixed, and any old unused files
will automatically be removed.
May 11, 2013 - Special Words for Android
Special Words is now available on Google Play for Android tablets
and phones! Many thanks to everybody who completed our Android Survey
and to those who helped us test the app.
The Android version has the same functionality as the Apple version
(apart from not supporting assistive switches) and it supports the same
set of languages. The layout of the buttons is slightly different - to
see it in detail, watch the video, or read the User Guide.
If you add your own text, pictures and sounds to the app on an Apple
device, you can transfer them via email to the app on an Android device,
and vice versa. You can also transfer data between Android devices
using Bluetooth, and download our existing free resources from the
There are many different Android devices, running lots of different
versions of Android, so we obviously can't test on all of them. If you
find a problem on your device, please email us and let us know so we
can try to fix it for you.
May 5, 2013 - Hindi Special Words
We are pleased to announce an updated version of Special Words for
We have added a Hindi translation, with written words and audio
kindly provided by Shashi Pandya. Apple doesn't currently offer Hindi
as one of the default languages for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, so
the buttons and menus will still appear in English, but you can now see
and hear Hindi for the written words and sounds in the 4 games, by
selecting Hindi as the language for any profile. How to select
languages is explained in
the Managing Profiles
chapter of the Special Words User Guide. You can also add new words in
Hindi if you enable the Hindi (Devanagari) keyboard in Apple's Settings
This version also includes a fix to a problem where some captured
photos (typically taken using the front camera on an iPad in landscape
orientation with the home button on the right) caused unintended
rotating photo animations when playing the games.
April 26, 2013 - Price changes
We've kept our app prices constant (subject to currency fluctuations)
since we first launched Special Words in September 2011 and have held
off increases for as long as possible. Unfortunately we now have to
raise the price of all of our apps. They will go up by approximately
40% (varying slightly between countries) on May 5.
We develop our apps on a nonprofit basis, but do need to cover our
costs in order to fund new development and ongoing maintenance and
support, to purchase hardware and software, and to keep a roof over our
heads. We continually add new features to our apps, for which updates
are (and will continue to be) free. We also have a range of free
add-ons and intend to continue and expand these.
At Special iApps we develop specialised apps for children around the
world with learning disabilities and difficulties, in conjunction with
teachers, speech and language experts and other professionals, and we
make improvements based on feedback from parents whenever we can. This
is a niche market, and doesn't deliver a huge financial return.
We run a full-time business with just 3 people, all parents of
disabled children. We answer every support query we receive, and aim to
do so within 24 hours. Recently we've been concentrating on developing
a version of Special Words for Android, in response to many requests for
this, and we will be releasing it in the Summer. We're currently
working on new apps, and will tell you more about them as soon as we
We hope you think our apps still deliver good value for money, and we
are always keen to hear your suggestions for improvements and additions.
We will hold our current prices until May 4, as we are aware you may
wish to download any you were thinking of getting before the price
increase takes effect.
April 25, 2013 - Free downloads
We have some new free downloadable resources for Special Words and
Special Stories, to help you teach your child about emotions and facial
April 12, 2013 - Special Words for Android coming soon
After 3 months of hard work we have a test version of our Special
Words app for Android. Invitations to help us test it have gone out to
those people who completed our Android Survey and said they'd be
willing to help.
When the app will be ready to release will depend on how many issues
we find during testing, and how long it takes us to fix them. Although
the Android version has pretty much the same functionality as the Apple
version, we've had to re-write it completely from scratch, because the
two mobile platforms are very different under the hood, and we've had
to learn a lot about Android along the way.
If there proves to be sufficient interest in Special Words, we will
try to make our other apps available for Android as well.
Watch this space!
March 28, 2013 - Special Stories switch support
Today we have released an updated version of Special Stories. Like
our recent update to Special Words, Special Stories now supports
For more details, please read
the new Switches
chapter in the User Guide.
March 22, 2013 - Special Words: Welsh and switches
We are pleased to announce an updated version of Special Words.
This now includes a Welsh translation, kindly provided by Siôn
Meredith and Rachel Morgan from Aberystwyth University. Apple doesn't
currently offer Welsh as one of the default languages for the iPad,
iPhone and iPod touch, so the buttons and menus will still appear in
English, but you can now see and hear Welsh for the written words and
sounds in the 4 games, by selecting “Cymraeg” as the
language for any profile. How to select languages is explained in
the Managing Profiles
chapter of the Special Words User Guide.
We have also added a facility to control all the games using
assistive switches connected to the iPad, iPhone or iPod touch via a
Bluetooth switch interface. This is for children whose physical
disability prevents them from operating the device using its touch
screen, but who can choose and select options by operating a single
switch, or a pair of switches. Many thanks to the staff at
Academy for helping us with this, and
Technologies Ltd for providing us with their APPlicator switch
interface and Smoothie 75 switches (shown here). For more information
about using switches with Special Words, see
the Assistive Switches
chapter in the User Guide.
February 18, 2013 - BridgingApps reviews
BridgingApps (formerly SNApps4Kids.com) have recently reviewed two of
our apps. They described Special Words as an
excellent app for assisting young children in developing very beginning
reading skills and preschool/school-age children in learning sight
words, and said of Special Stories The
interface is clean and user-friendly ... there are a number of other
special features that make this app stand out from others in its
We've had a number of requests recently to make our apps available on
Android mobile devices. If this is something that would interest you,
please complete our new survey. This will help us assess the level of
interest, and establish the range of devices and Android versions we
will need to support.
(May 10, 2013: Survey is now closed)
December 29, 2012 - App Store reviews
We've had a couple of App Store reviews recently, asking for features
to be added that already exist in our apps. Like all developers, we are
not able to reply to App Store reviews, but if you contact us by email
we guarantee to reply, usually the same day.
For instance, Special Words has a shuffle cards option to make the
words and pictures not always appear in the same position, and we added
this in March because several of you had asked for it.
Likewise, when adding pages in Special Stories, you can disable
recording sounds (either so you can add them later in a quieter
environment, or because you don't want sound at all).
These and many other options can be found in each app's Settings. We
recommend you regularly update all your apps, to ensure you have all the
Each of our apps has an extensive User Guide available on our website
and from the app's Online Documentation view. We welcome your feedback
and comments, and we include many of your suggestions as we continue to
develop our apps.
We'd especially like to thank everyone who has contributed
suggestions, translations and other help in 2012, and would like to wish
everybody a Very Happy New Year.
December 8, 2012 - Data transfer between apps
You can now transfer words, pictures and sounds between Special Words
and Special Stories!
Today we've released updated versions of both apps. With these you
can transfer a word list from Special Words into Special Stories as a
talking book. In the other direction, you can transfer a story from
Special Stories as a set of cards that you can then match in Special
Words. So it's now easy to reinforce learning from one app in the
other, and create resources once that you can use in both apps.
We've also added support for German in Special Stories, and
improved the German in Special Words: many thanks to Jochen Kortländer
for providing the translations.
October 12, 2012 - Special Numbers updates
A new version of Special Numbers is now available. We've added
Spanish and Catalan to the existing UK and US English: huge thanks to
Marta Montserrat and her husband Àlex for providing the written and
spoken words in both languages. We've optimised this version for iOS 6
and the iPhone 5.
We've also now added a Profiles feature, similar to the one
in Special Words, so you can re-record the audio using your own voice
(or your child's), and replace the written words
(one, two, etc) and you can convert for any language
we don't yet include in the app.
As each profile can have its own sounds and settings, you can now
easily personalise Special Numbers to use it with several children on a
single iPad. You can also transfer customisations between devices
(using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or email).
We are very pleased and excited to announce that Barbara Lowe has
joined the team at Special iApps. Barbara is an experienced graphic
artist and photographer, and will be helping us with pictures and
artwork for our apps, website and publicity materials.
Barbara has a baby girl, Maya, who enjoys the sessions at The
Education Centre for Children with Down Syndrome, and you'll be seeing
many of the children there featuring on our website in the coming
Please join us in welcoming Barbara to Special iApps!
October 2, 2012 - iBooks
An updated version of Special Stories (1.3.0) is now available on the
App Store. As well as being optimised for the iPhone 5 and iOS 6, you
can now view and listen to your stories in iBooks.
You could already export your stories as PDF files, and open these in
iBooks, but without sound. Now you can also export them to iBooks as
books with text, pictures and sound, and share them with people who
have iBooks but don't have Special Stories (for example,
You need to be running iOS 5.0 or later to do this. To add an
existing story your iBooks bookshelf on the same device, go to
the Extra Actions view in Special Stories,
tap Export Story, select the story, tap
the Open In ... button, and then the
option Open in iBooks. To email a story to somebody
else so they can open it in iBooks, choose Use Email
instead of Open In ... and then the
option Email as EPUB (iBooks).
When viewed in iBooks, each story has a portrait-only single-page
layout. To play the sound for each page, tap the picture: to turn the
pages, swipe across the text. Each story has a table of contents to
make it easy to quickly navigate to a particular page.
September 15, 2012 - iOS 6
Apple will release iOS
6, the latest version of its operating system for the iPad, iPhone
and iPod touch, on Wednesday, and its newest iPhone,
the iPhone 5 on Friday.
A particularly useful new feature in iOS 6 is Guided
Access. This will allow you to effectively disable all the physical
buttons on the device and keep your child in one app. No more fiddling
with the Home button or the volume! It will also enable you to disable
areas of the screen within any app, so that they don't respond to
touches (the padlock lock button and editing setting in our apps can be
used to complement this).
Provided you have the current versions of our apps, they should work
perfectly still after upgrading to iOS 6. If you are running old
versions of Special Stories and Special Words (i.e. if you haven't
updated them since 7th July), you need to download the latest
Current versions of all our apps will run on the new iPhone 5 (and
5th generation iPod touch). However, like nearly all existing apps
(apart from those developed by Apple) they won't yet use its extra
screen area (about 1/2 inch or 12 cm taller than the iPhone 4 and
We're currently working on updates to our apps that will enable them
to use the whole screen on these new devices. Unfortunately, we'll no
longer be able to support iOS versions earlier than 4.3, so if you are
still running 4.0, 4.1 or 4.2, you'll need to update. We'll let you
know as soon as our new versions are available.
The image to the right shows how the next version of Special Words
will look on an iPhone 5. Two extra pictures in the Word List will be
visible at any one time, compared with earlier iPhone models.
September 2, 2012 - Anniversary party
Cutting the cake at our first anniversary party. From left: Bev, William,
Colin and Joseph.
September 1, 2012 - First anniversary
It's our first birthday! A very big thank you to everybody who has
supported us over the last year, and we'll see you later if you're
coming to the party.
Today we have launched our latest app,
ClickTap the App
Store logo to download it now!
August 20, 2012: New app - Special Numbers
We are launching our latest app, Special Numbers, on 1st September.
The price will be the same as for Special Stories and Special Words.
You can watch the video and read the user guide now ...
1st September will be the first anniversary of the launch of our
Special Words app. To celebrate, we are holding a party between noon
and 4pm on Saturday 1st September at the
Alan Shearer Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne.
The sensory rooms, music room and ballpool will be available, and the
café will be open. If the weather is fine, we'll be able to use the
outside play area too.
Please email us if you will be coming, so we have an idea of
This term-long project involved 13 children in the UK, aged 3-7
years, with a range of communication, language and literacy
It has demonstrated that Special Words is an effective resource to
enhance communication, language and literacy skills, and that it has a
positive impact on the development of expressive language, receptive
language, word recognition, reading and listening skills.