Frequently Asked Questions
Are your apps available for Android or Windows?
Many of our apps are available for Android as well as iOS. We don't currently have any plans to bring our apps to Windows mobile devices or desktops.
How do I buy your apps?
You can purchase our apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch using the App Store app on your device. Alternatively, you can purchase from the iTunes program on a PC or Mac, and then use iTunes to sync the apps to your devices. If you are buying for a school or other educational establishment, you must purchase one copy for each device: there are discounts if you use Apple's Volume Purchase Programme for Education.
To purchase our apps for Android devices, download from the Google Play Store using the Google Play app on your device.
What ages of children are your apps suitable for?
A very wide range! Most have settings to adjust the level to suit a wide range of abilities. Several have facilities to add personal content, to engage children and keep them interested. Our Special Words and Special Stories apps are widely used with children from one year old, up to adults with learning difficulties.
For very young children, you may wish to start with our simple Touch Apps, and move on to our more advanced apps later.
Do I need training before I can use your apps?
No, they are very easy and intuitive to use, and several include a Quick Start Guide. To familiarise yourself with all the things you can do with an app, you may like to read its detailed User Guide on our website.
We do run very popular Training Workshops, where you can try our apps and share ideas with other users. We cover our own apps, how to find other good apps, and getting the most out of iPads and other tablets.
Currently, workshops are only available in the UK and Ireland, but we are hoping to expand to other countries. Please let us know if you would be interested, wherever you are.
Do you provide free promo codes?
Please read our Promo Code Policy.
What was your connection with See and Learn?
Versions of our Special Words and Touch-Words apps available up to March 2016, and versions of our Special Numbers app available up to December 2014, incorporated images from a now superseded edition of the See and Learn teaching programme developed by Down Syndrome Education International, used with their kind permission.
These three apps were devised and implemented by Special iApps, and were not commissioned or funded by any other organisation. All currently-available versions contain only original artwork created by Special iApps.
Can we commission you to write an app for us?
We're sorry, but we don't develop apps for other people. However, if you have suggesions for how we can enhance our apps to meet any specific need you may have, please get in touch.
Sound and Text
Why won't the app play or record sound?
Apple devices ask you to give permission the first time any particular app wants to use the microphone. If you say no, then the app will seem to make a recording, but when you play back it will be silent. If this is the case, open the Settings app, and in Privacy > Microphone check that the app is listed and enabled (the switch must be green). If the app is not shown there at all, reset the device's privacy settings, in the Settings app under General > Reset > Reset Location & Privacy. Then try again to make a recording.
If that's not the solution, check the device's volume control and mute button. When the device is muted, some apps will still produce sound, while others won't. On older iPads, if you use the switch on the side of the device above the volume control as a Lock Rotation button, it may not be obvious if the device is muted or how to unmute it: the answer is to tap the bell button in the Control Centre (swipe up from the bottom of the home screen to reveal this).
Also check the settings for the individual app: Special Words, Special Stories, Match & Find and My 1st Signs have Using Sound or Playing Sound settings and Special Numbers has Playing Sound settings for each individual activity.
If one of our apps displays an error message Audio Error: Cannot record sound on iOS, this can be because the device needs restarting. In this case, press and hold the sleep button on the top of the device until the message slide to power off appears, power it off and press and hold the sleep button again to restart it.
Why is the app text and audio in the wrong language?
By default, the language used by the app depends on the language and region format set for your mobile device in its Settings app (under General > Language & Region or General > International on iOS, or Language & input on Android). So, for instance, if the language is set to “Español”, the app will use Spanish text and a Spanish spoken voice. If the language you select isn't supported by the app, then English is used.
In Special Words and Special Numbers on iOS, to hear a British English voice instead of American, set your device's language to “British English”, not “English” (which is American). In Special Words, to hear an Australian voice, set the device's region format to “Australia” (iOS 6) or set the device's language to “Australian English” (iOS 7 and later); if the device's language is set to “Nederlands”, you will hear Dutch, unless the region format is set to “België”, in which case you will hear Flemish (Vlaams).
In Special Words and Special Numbers, you can select a different language for each individual profile, without having to change the device's language or region format, as explained in the Special Words User Guide for iOS, the Special Words User Guide for Android, and the Special Numbers User Guide.
In Match & Find you can override the default language, as explained in the Match & Find User Guide. In our Touch Apps you can override the default language, as explained in the Touch Apps User Guide (iOS) and the Touch Apps User Guide (Android).
Note that you need to set the language explicitly to use languages not fully supported by the device (e.g. for Albanian, Bulgarian, Luxembourgish, Hindi (prior to iOS 8) and Welsh in Special Words and the Touch Apps).
If you change the device's language on iOS, you may end up with multiple keyboard layouts: you can delete any you don't want in the Settings app (under General > Keyboard).
Can I change the font in the app or make it use capital letters?
In Special Words and in Special Stories, you can use our “Special Letters” font (the default) or either of the two OpenDyslexic fonts included in the app. On Apple devices, you can also select any font installed on the device. You change the font from the app's settings. In Special Stories, you can also change the font size.
In Special Words, and all of the Touch Apps except Touch-Numbers, there is a “Capital Letters” setting. If you turn this on, the written words associated with the cards will be displayed in CAPITAL LETTERS.
My child has impaired hearing, how can I make the sound louder?
The built-in speaker in most mobile devices isn't very loud. We recommend connecting your device to a pair of portable speakers - there are many models available, some are sold on the Apple Store. Beware speakers only costing around £10 - you may be disappointed by the volume and sound quality - we suggest trying or reading reviews before buying.
Alternatively, we find connecting to a Hi-Fi system works well - you would typically need a cable with a 3.5mm (1/8") stereo jack plug at one end and 2 phono plugs at the other end.
The sounds I recorded don't sound as clear as the built-in ones, what can I do?
The device's built-in microphone may pick up stray sounds. Try to record your voice in a quiet room. Speak clearly, but don't talk directly into the microphone or you may overload it. Your device may have a set of earpieces that have a microphone built into their cable - this can be better.
For the very best results, use a good quality external microphone - you may need an adapter cable specially designed for connecting the microphone to your device. Not all Android devices support external microphones.
Camera and Photos
Why is the screen black when I try to take a photo?
On Apple devices, you need to grant the app access to the camera, in the Settings app > Privacy.
How can I take better quality photos than with the built-in camera?
Use a good quality digital camera. If you have an iPad, you can buy an Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit from the Apple Store, and connect the camera's USB cable directly to the iPad: you can then import any photos from the camera directly into the Photos library on the iPad.
If you don't have a connection kit, or for an iPhone or iPod touch, you can transfer photos from the camera to your Mac or PC, and then synchronise to your mobile device using iTunes.
Alternatively, email photos as attachments to yourself: when you open the email on your mobile device, you can save the attachments to the Photo library (on iOS) or Gallery (on Android).
Backups, Sharing and Add-On Resources
Is the content of your apps automatically backed up to iCloud?
No, the content of our apps (and many others) is not automatically synchronised with iCloud. To ensure you have a safe backup of everything on an iOS device, we recommend you sync it to iTunes on a PC or Mac. You may want to use both iCloud and iTunes, as explained in Apple's support article.
If your device runs iOS 10 or later, and you have enabled the iCloud Drive app, you can manually copy profiles in Special Words and collections and stories in Special Stories to and from iCloud Drive. Refer to the User Guides for these apps for details.
How do I download and install add-on resources?
Detailed instructions can be found by following the links on our Free Resources page.
Can I transfer to Special Stories the content I've added to Special Words, or vice versa?
Yes, you can transfer words, pictures and sounds in both directions. You need both Special Words and Special Stories installed on the same device. For a detailed explanation, read the Extra Actions chapters in our User Guides for Apple devices, or the Sharing chapters in our User Guides for Android devices.
How can I transfer data between Apple and Android devices?
If you have Special Stories on an Android device (e.g. a Samsung phone) and on an Apple device (e.g. an iPad), you can easily transfer stories and collections in either direction, either by sending as an email attachment, or directly between the devices over Wi-Fi. You can use exactly the same methods to transfer profiles between Special Words on the two devices. You will find instructions in the Extra Actions chapters in our User Guides for Apple devices, and the Sharing chapters in our User Guides for Android devices.
Can I open a story created with Special Stories in iBooks?
You need both Special Stories and iBooks on your Apple device. In Special Stories, go to the list of stories, tap the action button (top left), and choose Export Story. If you have more than one collection of stories, select the collection containing the story you want to open. Choose the story, tap Open In “iBooks”, and then tap the iBooks icon.
A copy of the story will be transferred to your iBooks library and opened in iBooks. Note that the story in iBooks will appear portrait-only and display one page at a time. To play the sound for a page, tap the picture.
If you would like to send the story to somebody else to open in iBooks, instead of opening it yourself, choose Use Email instead of Open In “iBooks”, and then choose Email as EPUB (iBooks). The recipient will need to have iBooks installed on their device (but won't need Special Stories).
To send to someone who doesn't have iBooks, choose Email as PDF. In this case, only text and pictures will be included, not sound.
How can I transfer data between Apple and Android devices?
If you have Special Stories on an Android device (e.g. a smartphone) and on an Apple device (e.g. an iPad), you can transfer stories and collections in either direction, either by sending as an email attachment, or directly between the devices over Wi-Fi. You can use the same methods to transfer profiles between Special Words.
I imported a collection into Special Stories - where have my original stories gone?
Assuming you selected the Add new collection option when importing, the stories you already had in other collection(s) are still there, but the app's main view is now showing the stories in the new collection.
On iOS, to select one of your original collections instead, tap the action button at the top left of the main view, then the Manage Collections button, and choose the collection you want to see by tapping it.
On Android, select Collections from the menu in the main view, and tap the checkbox to the left of the collection you want to see. Then return to the main view.
I imported a profile into Special Words - where have my original words and pictures gone?
Assuming you selected the Add new profile option when importing, the words, pictures and sounds you already had in other profiles(s) are still there, but the app's activities and Word List are now showing the data in the new profile.
On iOS, to select one of your original profiles instead, tap Word List (at the bottom right), then the action button at the top right, then the Manage Profiles button, and choose the profile you want to see by tapping it.
On Android, select Profiles from the menu in the Word List view, and tap the checkbox to the left of the profile you want to see.
Usability and Settings
Why does nothing happen when I tap the padlock button on an Apple device?
This button is intended to be child-proof: you need to press and hold it for 3 seconds.
In Special Words, why are some of the buttons disabled?
How can I prevent my child from accidentally deleting and rearranging things?
In the Settings app on iOS, in General > Restrictions, you can set a passcode, and then prevent operations including installing and deleting apps. In the Special Stories, Special Words, Special Numbers and My 1st Signs settings, you can disable editing, so the app's words, pictures and sounds can't be rearranged, deleted or overwritten.
You can also make use of the Guided Access features on iOS devices, for example, to disable all the physical buttons.
We also strongly recommend you use the export facilities in our apps to regularly save copies of your personalised stories or word lists, and that you regularly backup your device to iTunes on your PC or Mac.
For more information about the export facilities in our apps, read the User Guide for the app in question: you can find these from our Site Map.
Where can I find the settings for the apps on an Apple device?
In Special Stories, tap the action button at the top left in the main view, or in Special Words tap the Word List icon at the bottom right and then the action button at the top right. In either case, you are then looking at the Extra Actions view, and the Settings button is at at the top right. In Special Numbers or Match & Find, tap the Settings button at the top right in the opening view. In My 1st Signs, tap Sign Categories at the bottom right, Options at the top right, and then Settings.
Note: please don't use Apple's Settings app to view the settings for these apps, as some of the options may not be available there. You can read more about the available settings in our User Guides: you can find these from our Site Map.
For our Touch Apps, the settings can be found in Apple's Settings app only, not in the Touch App itself. For details, see the Touch Apps User Guide.
Where can I find the settings for the apps on an Android device?
In Special Stories and in our Touch Apps, select Settings from the device's physical menu button or the overflow button at the right of the action bar. In Special Words, from any of the activities, select Word List from the device's physical menu button or the overflow button at the right of the action bar: then select Settings from the same menu in the Word List view.
Why can't I print from Special Stories?
On iOS, first check whether you can print from Apple's apps, such as Mail and Safari: if you can't print from these, you won't be able to print from Special Stories. If, when you try to print, your device displays Looking for printers and then No AirPrint Printers Found then you don't have any suitable printers within Wi-Fi range, or your device isn't connected to a Wi-Fi network.
On Android, you must be running Android 4.4 or later, or the Print story button in Special Stories will not be present. Also check whether you can print from standard Android apps, such as Chrome: if you can't print from these, you won't be able to print from Special Stories. You will also need an Android-compatible printer (e.g. using HP ePrint or Google Cloud Print).
A workaround, if you have no compatible printer, is to use the Email as PDF option in Special Stories, and then print the attachment from a Mac or PC. Alternatively, there are programs available to turn a PC or Mac into an AirPrint server, so that Apple mobile devices can then print via that: we have successfully used Printopia 2 for Mac.
How can I organise stories into collections in Special Stories?
To manage collections in Special Stories on iOS, tap the action button (at the top left) to display the Extra Actions view, and then tap the Manage Collections button, to reveal all the collections you currently have. On Android, select Collections from the menu in the main view.
From there you can add, delete and reorder collections: on iOS tap the Edit button; on Android tap the padlock icon.
To change the title of a collection, tap the arrow button to the right of its name. To copy or move a story from one collection to another, select the collection it's in, and then go back to the main view and tap the story's arrow button. On iOS, tap the story's Edit button, to reveal the Copy button, and use that: on Android tap the copy icon. You can also copy individual pages between stories (in the same or different collections), by using the Copy button or copy icon in the page editor.
The Export Story and Import Story options will allow you to export and import stories either individually or as whole collections.
When I add a new word in Special Words, it always appears at the start of the Word List: how can I move it?
If you tap an existing word in the Word List (to highlight it in blue) before tapping + to add a new word, then the new word will appear directly after that word, instead of at the beginning.
If you've already added a word, and want to move it, tap the Edit button (on iOS) or padlock button (on Android) at the top of the Word List, and then drag the word up or down the list using the icon that appears next to it on the right. When you've finished, tap Done (iOS) or the padlock (Android).
I'm using these apps on a single iPad with several children: how can I have different content for each child?
In Special Words, you can have more than one list of words, each referred to as a “profile”, and switch easily between them. Refer to the User Guide for a detailed explanation of how to use this.
In a similar way in Special Stories, you can arrange stories into “collections”, as explained in the User Guide.