The settings for Special Sentences can be accessed from the Options button in the main view, and will look similar to those shown here.
Slide to the left to slow down the pace of all activities, or to the right to speed them up.
For spoken audio, the app will normally search for a real human recording of a word or sentence, either built into the app or recorded by you. In cases where this is not found, it falls back on using a simulated (text-to-speech) voice provided by the device. You can modify this behaviour by changing this option from its default Real or Simulated, to any of Real (making it silent where a real recording is not found), Simulated (making it ignore all recordings and use a simulated voice for all words and sentences), or None (no word or sentence sound is ever played).
If this option is set to None, then the following sound settings are all ignored. There are further notes towards the end of this chapter on how to download enhanced simulated voices from Apple.
When this is ON, the sentence in the activity is spoken when it appears. This can help children who are just starting to use the activities, or who are struggling with sentence building. Once skills have developed, you may want to turn it OFF: otherwise the sound may provide too much help, so you're not testing your child's visual recognition of words and sentence building at all.
Turn this OFF if you don't want the sentence spoken after it is matched.
By default this is ON, which plays the audio for the word when you tap a card to match.
By default this is ON, which plays the audio for the whole sentence when you tap the picture.
You can change the font used to display the text in the activities. By default, the Special Letters font from Special iApps is used. The app also includes two OpenDyslexic fonts, designed to increase readability for users with dyslexia, and you can select these here, or any other fonts installed on the device.
By default, after each page of cards is matched, the cards wiggle back and forward and an applause sound is played, as a reward for completing the sentence. Turn OFF if you want to disable rewards, or select only Animation or Sound if you prefer.
By default this is set to Unmodified, meaning that letters in a word are displayed in upper or lowercase to match their cases in the original sentence. Alternatively, you can choose from All Uppercase, All Lowercase, Sentence Case, or Title Case, depending on your learning methodology. With sentence case, the first letter of the first word is automatically uppercased and the remaining letters of all words are lowercased "Like this." With title case the first letter of each word is uppercased, and the other letters lowercased "Like This".
This allows you to choose if and when text is displayed in the sentence to match. It has no effect on the individual word cards. Choices are Always Hint (the sentence to complete is always shown, in blue); Flashed Hint (the sentence is shown briefly and then hidden, and this can be repeated by tapping the picture), or None (no visual hints are shown). The default is always.
You can change the activity background from the default White to Black. Doing so also changes the hint colour for the sentence text from blue to orange, for better contrast. This may be helpful for some children with visual impairment.
This setting affects the activity view only. To invert the colours in all views, you can instead make use of the Smart Inverted Colours facility in the device's accessibility settings. The universal dark mode feature introduced in iOS 13 is not yet supported by this app.
Turn this OFF to prevent accidental changes to any topics, especially if you have left your child to use the app on their own. This then disables editing and rearranging existing topics and sentences, and adding new ones. It also prevents the Word List from being modified, and disables most of the facilities in the Actions view.
Having successfully matched a sentence, a blue arrow normally appears, and you need to tap it to proceed to the next sentence in the topic. Turn OFF to instead move on automatically without showing the arrow. Note that you can always select a different sentence in the current topic from within the activity by tapping the sentence number at the top of the screen and selecting from the list that then appears.
The app has a Reset button, accessible on the Actions screen. Using this will undo all changes you have made to Special Sentences since you installed it on the device. This includes removing all collections, topics, sentences and words you have created, and restoring the app's settings to their default values. You cannot undo this once you've done it.
After confirming that you wish to reset the app, you have to reconfirm by typing the word “Reset” into the box that appears. This is to reduce the chances of a child resetting the app unintentionally. To further prevent accidental use of the Reset button, turn the Enable Editing option off in the Settings, as described above.
The app includes a child safety gate (also sometimes called a parental gate, parental lock or parental control), designed to protect children against navigating out of the app and visiting websites with unsuitable content, etc. It also controls access to the Actions page (so guarding use of the data import and export facilities), and to the Settings page itself.
To open the gate, the adult is required to enter the answer to a calculation to continue, for example:
9 - 3 + 4 =
In this case, the answer would be 10. Note: The gate cannot prevent the child from leaving the app by pressing the device's home button and then opening another app.
To hear the the most life-like simulated speech, it us 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 using the app's Settings. At iOS 13 or later, go to Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content > Voices. The equivalent location in older versions is Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech > Voices.
If multiple simulated voices are available, 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 collection, as described in Chapter 6, the app will will preferentially select a male or female voice accordingly.