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Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question or problem, have a look at these common questions and answers.

Tap or click a category to show or hide its questions. Tap or click a question to show or hide its answer.

If you are having a problem with one of our apps, please first ensure you have updated to the latest version, as that may resolve your issue.

If you can't find what you're looking for, don't hesitate to contact us: we are here to help! Please give us as much detail as you can, including the type of device you have.

How do I buy and install your apps?

Our new web-based apps, including Special Words Plus, Special Stories Plus and Special Spelling Plus, are available as part of Special iApps Membership. You can purchase a single licence or a 3-device licence here. These allow you to use all these apps and to try them with a 14-day free trial.

If you are a school, organisation, or looking to support a group of children, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

For download and installation instructions, please refer to our User Guides or Help Videos.

How do I login to an app I have installed?

You need to enter your Special iApps Membership username and product key into the login form presented by the app. Usually the username is the email address you used to purchase membership, but where an organisation has purchased multiple licences, it may be a string of letters, digits and dashes instead. Product keys are always 29 characters long, for example A3B4C-DF7P6-88RS5-9JKN8-XZY5A, and must be entered including the dashes.

Do I have to login to the app every time I use it?

No, you will normally automatically stay logged in, even if you close the app or turn the device off and back on. However, if you don't use the app for 30 days, you will be logged out.

Help! I have lost my product key

We will email your key to you if you enter your email address in the Lost or Forgotten form on the Manage Your Membership page.

Why does the app display "Too Many Devices Added"?

If, for example, you purchased a 1-device licence, then you can be logged in to each of our apps on no more than 1 device. If you try to login on too many devices, you will see this message. If you know you are logged in on another device, you can use the Actions page in that instance of the app to logout, thus freeing up a login to be used on a different device.

There can be cases where the Special iApps server has a record of a login that is no longer there. This can happen, for instance, if a device is broken or lost, or you try to login to an app using 2 different browsers on the same device (e.g. both Chrome and Edge on Windows), or if cookies have been deleted by the browser.

If this has happened, you can use the Logout of All Apps form at the bottom of the Manage Your Membership page.

How can I manage or cancel my Membership Subscription?

If you subscribed directly from our website, visit the Manage Your Membership page and complete the first form on the page. In other cases, contact us.

What is Makaton?

Makaton is a language programme developed by The Makaton Charity, that uses symbols, signs and speech to help people communicate. Makaton is frequently used with children and adults who have Autism, Down syndrome, and other communication and learning disabilities. You may have seen Makaton used in the Something Special show on the CBeebies TV Channel (available in the UK and some other countries), and by Singing Hands.

You can find lots more information about Makaton, including explanatory videos, and how to access Makaton training, on the Makaton Website.

What Makaton resources are available through Special iApps?

As a result of an ongoing collaboration with The Makaton Charity, Special iApps is pleased to offer a growing set of resources that include images of official Makaton symbols with corresponding text and audio. These are currently available to download and use in our Special Words Plus, Special Stories Plus and Special Spelling Plus apps, which are available as part of Special iApps Membership. Using these resources in our apps is a great way to learn and reinforce sign-based communication, as well as encouraging speech and other skills.

How do I access Makaton resources in these apps?

You need to have already joined Special iApps Membership, and downloaded and logged in to one of our plus apps (on iPad, iPhone, Android or desktop). You also need to have a current Makaton membership.

To download Makaton resources in Special Words Plus, go to Word List > Actions > Import Word List > Download > Makaton. The first time you do this, you will be asked for your Makaton username and 6-digit membership ID (not your password). If you don't know these, see the answer to the question below.

You can then browse all the word lists that are currently available. These are grouped by Makaton Membership level (Free, Standard or Premium), and although you can browse them all, you can only actually download the ones permitted by your membership level (e.g. if you have Standard Membership, you can download the Free and Standard ones, but not the Premium ones).

Please Note:

When you have selected a word list you are permitted to download, you will be offered a choice of Add new profile, Replace "Profile 1", etc. We recommend selecting Add new profile, so as not to risk losing any existing word lists. You can switch between multiple word lists from Word List > Actions > Manage Profiles.

How do I find my Makaton Membership Details?

Sign in on the Makaton Website, with your Makaton username (usually an email address) and password. Then click the "Hi <Your Name>" at the top to see your 6-digit Membership ID and other details. If you have forgotten your username or password, you can find help on the Makaton website.

What if I change my Makaton Membership level or need to use a different Makaton ID?

You should log out of the app using Actions > Logout (this will not affect your existing content or settings), and then log back in with the email address and product key associated with your Special iApps Membership. The next time you go to download Makaton resources, you will be asked for your Makaton username and ID again. If you have lost your Special iApps product key, visit our Manage Your Membership page.

If you have a Makaton Trial Membership, you will only be able to download until the end of your trial. For other Makaton memberships, you will be required to re-validate your Makaton username and ID in the app after 90 days from when you last did so.

Can I print out Makaton Symbols from Special Words Plus?

You can print assessment forms with Makaton symbol thumbnails, as well as written word cards. You can only print picture cards of Makaton symbols if you have Makaton Premium Membership (not Free or Standard), for copyright reasons.

Can I export word lists with Makaton symbols and import on another device?

No, you cannot export a word list that contains any Makaton symbol images, for copyright reasons. To use Makaton symbols on a different device, download them again.

Can I access Makaton resources outside the UK?

Makaton is available in other countries. The symbols are pictographic so can be used in other languages, however some symbols will be different. The symbol of bread in the UK is a traditional loaf but that used in French will be a baguette. Makaton resources for our apps are downloadable in any country, but are currently only available in British English.

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.

More about workshops ►

What is your privacy policy?

As parents of children with learning disabilities, we take privacy very seriously. Please read our Privacy Policy.

Do you provide free promo codes?

We no longer provide promo codes for any app stores, as our old apps are no longer available to purchase. From time to time we offer coupon codes for our Membership Subscription. Join our Mailing List to receive all our news in your inbox.

What happened to your original apps on Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Amazon Appstore?

Effective November 2022, all of our apps on these stores have been withdrawn from sale. If you have previously bought these, you can continue to use them, and to install on any device that's associated with your store account. However, we are no longer maintaining or supporting them, they do not work on iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1 or later, and may not work on future versions of Android.

If you have valuable content in these apps, and don't want to lose it, you should subscribe to Special iApps Membership, and transfer your data across. If you need help doing this, please contact us. If you purchased any during 2022, email us your store receipt(s) to obtain a membership discount.

Our new web-based apps supersede the original ones and are available as part of Special iApps Membership. They are all fully compatible with Android, Chromebook, iPad, iPhone, macOS and Windows, running supported versions of browsers and operating systems. You purchase and renew your Membership Subscription directly from us, not through any app store.

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?

Please get in touch with us at support@specialiapps.org to discuss working together and details of your proposal.

Why won't the app play or record sound?

Most web browsers and operating systems require the user to give permission before a web app or web page is permitted to use the microphone. Typically, they will prompt you to allow or deny the first time the app needs to record sound. If you decline, you may not be prompted again, with the result that trying to record may either provoke an error message, or simply record silence.

If you can play sound, but not record, check your browser or device privacy settings (in most cases you can find these by searching for "Privacy" or "Microphone" in the settings).

There is a particular issue on iPad and iPhone, that you may see "www.specialiapps.org" Would Like to Access the Microphone every time, even if you have already allowed it. A workaround is to find Safari in the device Settings, scroll down to Microphone, and change access from Ask to Allow. Be aware, though, that this setting applies to all web apps and web pages.

If you can't hear sound, check the device's volume control and mute button. When the device is muted, some apps may still produce sound, while others won't.

Our apps all have their own settings, some of which control when they play recorded audio and/or use text-to-speech voices. Refer to our User Guides for details.

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 device in its Settings. 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.

On Apple devices, 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 language to “Australian English”. 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).

If you change the device language, our apps may not reflect this automatically - you can use Reset > Flush Cache in the apps to force them to pick up the change.

An alternative to changing the device language is to set the language within the app's own Settings. This also allows you to choose a language supported by the app but not the device. In our Special Words app, you can also specify a different language for each profile.

Can I change the font in the app or make it use capital letters?

Each of our apps has a font setting, where you can choose fonts supplied as standard on the device, as well as the additional fonts supplied by Special iApps (Special Letters, OpenDyslexic and Inter). Additional fonts installed on the device by the user are generally not accessible to web apps. However, most of our apps allow you to install any font files you may have directly into the app, so they can be used.

Several of our apps have a Capital Letters setting, as well as text size settings.

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 of cheap speakers - 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.

How can I improve the sound quality when using text to speech (TTS)?

When our apps use text to speech (synthesised voices), they rely on the voices provided by the device. To hear the the most life-like simulated speech, if using an Apple iPad or iPhone, it is usually worth using one of the Enhanced voices that you can easily download to your device from Apple (free of charge), rather than the basic voice or voices that came with the device. You can download and choose between available voices from Apple using the device's Settings, under Accessibility > Spoken Content > Voices.

If multiple simulated voices are available on iOS, the app will normally use whichever you have selected as the device's default for your language. However, if you have selected a language-voice combination with a particular gender for a profile or a collection in those of our apps that offer this choice, the app will will preferentially select a male or female voice accordingly, if possible.

On Android, you can install voices, and in some cases select gender, from Language and input > Text-to-speech output, in the device's Settings.

Why is the screen black when I try to take a photo?

You may need to grant permission for the app to use the camera.

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).

Why do my printouts not fit on the paper?

Our web-based apps by default generate ISO A4 pages in all countries except US, Canada, Mexico, Columbia, Peru and Dominican Republic, where the default is US Letter. Your country is determined from your device's Internet address, using publicly-available address tables. Depending on your ISP, this may not always be correct. We do not collect or store your address.

You can configure the page size used by our web-based apps in their settings. This needs to match the paper size selected when printing, and the dimensions of the paper in the printer.

Our apps generate their own page headers and footers, and for pages to fit you may need to suppress the option in your web browser to add its own. This is not usually necessary if using Chrome, Edge or Firefox, but is required if using Safari on Mac. Unfortunately, browser headers cannot be disabled when printing to a device from web apps on iPad or iPhone, so you may prefer to print from our app on a desktop or laptop computer instead.

Why does macOS or iOS say website has been blocked from printing?

On a Mac, iPad or iPhone, if you cancel the printing of content from one of our web-based apps, and then try to print again, you may see the message This website has been blocked from automatically printing with Ignore and Allow buttons. This is a feature of Safari. On iPad or iPhone, select Allow to continue. On Mac this does not work: you must instead select Ignore and then go back to the previous screen in our app (e.g. Word List in Special Words) before continuing.

Why does the app say "Unable to Print" and "Copyright"?

Some of the downloadable content in our web based apps, that has been licensed from third parties, is permitted to be used in the app but not be printed. You will see this message if you try to print content that is restricted in this way. You may instead be able to purchase paper-based resources from the copyright owner.

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 Apple Books (formerly iBooks)?

You need both Special Stories and Apple Books 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 Copy to... "EPUB (Apple Books)”, and then tap the Apple Books icon.

A copy of the story will be transferred to your Apple Books library and opened in Apple Books. Note that the story in Apple Books 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 Apple Books, instead of opening it yourself, choose Use Email instead of Open In “Apple Books”, and then choose Email as EPUB (Apple Books). 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 Apple Books, 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.

How can I email a profile or story using a different email app?

On Android, when you export a profile from Special Words or a story (or collection) from Special Stories with "Use email", the system will offer you a choice of installed email apps to use. We have successfully tested with Gmail and K-9 Mail apps.

On an iPad or iPhone, "Use Email" will always select Apple Mail: to use a different mail app, select "Copy to ..." instead of "Use Email", and choose your preferred email app from the ones displayed.  If your email app is installed on iOS, but not shown, you may need to tap "More" to the right of the apps shown, and enable it.  We have successfully tested with Gmail and Microsoft Outlook apps.

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.

For further details, refer to the Special Stories User Guide.

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.

Then return to whichever activity you want to use. For further details, refer to the Special Words User Guide.

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?

This is the intended behaviour if you have disabled editing in the app's settings. If you re-enable editing, these buttons will be enabled again. This and other settings are described in the User Guide.

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 Words, Special Stories and Special Numbers 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. 

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.

You can read more about the available settings in the Special Stories and the Special Words user guides.

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.

For more details, read the User Guide. Ready-made Free Resources are also available to download into Special Stories.

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.

Likewise, Special Numbers has profiles.

In a similar way in Special Stories, you can arrange stories into “collections”, as explained in the User Guide.