Frequently Asked Questions
How do I buy your apps for Apple devices?
If you are a parent or carer, or a professional not based in a school, you can purchase our apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch using the App Store app on your device. The easiest way to find one of our apps on the App Store is to visit our website on your device, tap the Download on the App Store badge that's near the top of each page, and then select the app from the drop-down list. Alternatively, search for Special iApps on the store.
To purchase any of our apps for a school, see the answer to the question below.
How do I buy your apps for Android devices?
To purchase our apps for Android devices, download from the Google Play Store using the Google Play app on your device. The easiest way to find one of our apps on the Play Store is to visit our website on your device, tap the Get it on Google Play badge that's near the top of each page, and then select the app from the drop-down list. Alternatively, search for Special iApps on the store.
Note that for non-personal use (e.g. in a school) you must buy a separate copy of each app for every Android device you wish to use it on.
How do I buy your apps for my school?
If you are buying any iPad or iPhone app for a school or other educational establishment, you must purchase enough licences to cover the number of devices on which you want to install the app. Instead of using the standard App Store, your establishment needs to be registered to use Apple School Manager or Volume Purchase Programme (VPP). There is a 50% discount if you purchase 20 or more copies of the same app.
Registered schools can make educational purchases from Safari on an iPad or Mac, or Chrome or Edge on a Windows computer. If you tap or click the Download for your School badge on any page of our website, and select an app from the drop-down list, it will take you to the purchase page on the educational store. Alternatively, to see all of our apps, search for Special iApps C.I.C. on the store.
If Apple's educational store is not available in your country, please contact Apple Support.
Are your apps available for other devices?
We don't currently have any plans to bring our apps to Windows mobile devices or desktops, or to the Apple Mac.
Our apps for Android can be used on recent Google Chromebooks that include Android app compatibility.
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.
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 happened to your "Touch Apps"?
We stopped offering these 6 apps in mid 2018, but if you have previously downloaded any, you may continue to use them.
Based on customer feedback, we made several of these and other resources available as free add-ons for use with our Special Words and Special Stories apps.
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.
What is product registration?
Some of our apps offer a facility for you to register. Currently, this applies to Special Words Web (required), and to Special Words Pro (required if you wish to download its additional free resources). You register using your name and email address.
When registering, you have the option of joining our mailing list, allowing you to receive important notifications and occasional newsletters by email. Membership of our mailing list is entirely optional (but recommended), and you can subscribe or unsubscribe at any time.
How does it work?
You complete the relevant registration form online, with your name and email address (both required), whether to join our mailing list (optional) and other fields (also optional). We then email you a product key, and instructions for confirming your registration.
Keep a copy of the email somewhere safe.
The email will state your quota, which is the number of devices you may associate with your registration, and any expiry date. When you first use a feature that requires registration on a particular device, you will be prompted to activate or to login using your email address and product key. The feature is then enabled on that device. If you reach your quota of activated or logged-in devices, you cannot add any more devices until you deactivate or log out on one of them (which you can do from within the app).
By registering and activating / logging in, you confirm that you accept to the terms and conditions on the registration form and in your registration email. If you do not agree to these terms, you are not entitled to use the associated features.
What are the privacy implications?
Your privacy is of paramount importance to us. We transfer and hold your personal details securely, and do not share them (unless legally required to do so). We do not keep any personally identifiable information on your devices. You can contact us and ask us to cancel your registration and remove you from our records, and we will do so (as required by law). We aim to complete this within 5 working days.
How do I register Special Words Pro?
The first time you choose Import Word List > Download from Special iApps to import one of our free add-on word lists from within the app, a registration dialog will appear. From here, you can enter your details to register (if you have not already done so from another device) and, if registered, to activate your registration. Once you have completed this, the app will present its download menu.
Alternatively, you can register, activate and deactivate in the app at Settings > Registration.
You do not need to be online to use this app, and it will not communicate with our server, except when you download add-ons or manage your registration. Your registration is not checked every time you use the app, but it will require you to confirm your registration by reactivating when next importing a free add-on, if you haven't done so within the last 30 days.
How do I register Special Words Web?
Before you can download and use Special Words Web, you first need to register on our website. You can then download the app using the link contained in our follow-up email.
When you start the app, it will prompt for your email address and product key, and this will use one activation from your quota. If you wish to deactivate on a particular device, use Word List > Logout.
Special Words Web exists as a free trial of some of the activities in Special Words and Special Words Pro. Registration for this trial expires after 14 days, and is not renewable. You need to be online whenever you open this app.
Can I change my registration details?
If you need to change the name or email address associated with your registration, or any optional details you supplied when registering, please contact us. When doing so, please tell us which app this relates to.
What can I do if I have a problem?
First check that your Internet connection is online: registration-related features will not work otherwise. When entering a product key, make sure you use the same email address as you used to register.
If you still have a problem, or have lost your product key, please contact us.
To help us to solve your problem, please provide us with as much information as possible, including (a) the name and version of the app, (b) what device you were using it on, and (c) exactly what happened.
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.
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).
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, 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 i OS, 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 Apple's Guided Access facility for 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.
Where can I find the settings for the apps on an Android device?
In Special Stories, 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.
Can I disable the child safety gate in Special Words?
A child safety gate (also referred to as parental lock) is included in Special Words for iOS, starting at version 3.3.0. It appears by default whenever you tap the action button (at top right) from the Word List, and guards access to the Extra Actions view.
To permanently disable the gate, open it by answering the arithmetic question, e.g. for 7 - 3 + 4 = enter 8. Then open Settings (at top right), scroll down to Child Safety Gate and tap the switch. You will be asked an arithmetic question one last time in order to turn it off. To re-enable the gate subsequently, turn back on in Settings.
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.