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
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.
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.
Updated versions of Touch-Colors, 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
On Wednesday, Bev and Colin traveled 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 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
organizers. 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-Colors and Touch-Shapes are priced at 99¢ (US, Canada,
Australia), 69p (UK), 89c (Euro).
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
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-Colors, Touch-Shapes and Touch-Emotions. Watch this
Our free downloadable add-on resources for Special Words and Special
Stories (word lists and stories about colors, 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
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.
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
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 €
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
program, published by Down Syndrome Education International, and
includes written and spoken words in 19 languages.
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
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.
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
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.
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 center is one of our son William's
favorite places as he's spent many times playing in the ball pool. He
even sat on Alan Shearer's lap when the center was officially opened,
appearing on UK national TV and
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 recognize 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).
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,