Special Words User Guide - Introduction | Special iApps Skip to main content

Special Words User Guide - Introduction

This guide is for Android and Chromebooks. We have another guide for Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.


Special Words can be used to teach and assess recognition of written and spoken words, to encourage speech and communication, and to improve fine motor control, hand-eye coordination and attention skills.

Parents, teachers, speech therapists and educational psychologists around the world use Special Words daily with their children. This app won second place in the Education category of the Vodafone Foundation Mobile for Good Europe Awards 2013.

Special Words has 6 activities, Match PicturesMatch WordsWord to PicturePicture to Word, Sound to Picture and Sound to Word, all of which can be used to match 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 or 8 cards.

You can personalise by reordering, deleting and adding your own words, pictures and audio, and easily synchronise to your other mobile devices.

Special Words for Android requires a tablet or phone (running Android 4.0 or later) or a Chromebook (that supports running Android apps).

special-words-nexus-7.pngWith a simple and intuitive interface, Special Words has been shown to be accessible and hold the attention of children with Down syndrome, autism, poor fine motor skills, hearing impairment and other learning difficulties, as well as being appealing to typically developing children.

The Durham iPad Project Evaluation, published in June 2012, 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.

Special Words comes with 96 written words children use in their early vocabulary. It includes matching pictures, written and spoken words, in 27 languages: English (American, British and Australian), Afrikaans, Albanian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Dutch, Flemish, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Icelandic, Italian, Luxembourgish, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian and Welsh. You can easily replace the words and re-record the audio in any other language your child uses.

You can quickly add more words, pictures and sounds for family members, friends, and familiar objects, to increase your child's interest, and further develop their reading vocabulary.

We continue to develop and extend Special Words, in close collaboration with parents and professionals, and we welcome feedback and suggestions.

You can easily transfer personalised text, pictures and sounds between your devices, using Bluetooth®, Wi-Fi® or e-mail. You can have more than one set of words, or profiles in the app, and this can be especially useful if working with more than one child or a child who is bilingual or multilingual.

Special Words can also be used to complement our Special Stories and Special Spelling apps, and you can transfer pictures, sounds and text directly between Special Words and these other apps.

Most of the screenshots in this User Guide show Special Words running on a phone rather than a tablet (just because the images for a phone are smaller), but everything described applies equally to phones, tablets and Chromebooks, except where stated otherwise.

There are 3 different editions of Special Words available for Android and Chromebooks:

  • Special Words (standard edition)
  • Special Words Pro (professional edition)
  • Special Words Web (web edition)

The web edition is available free as a 28-day trial, from the Special iApps website, and has a subset of the features and content of the other two editions. It is intended for evaluating the suitability of the app prior to purchasing either of the other editions from the Google Play Store or the Amazon Appstore.

This user guide describes the standard and professional editions, noting where there are differences between them.