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Special Words User Guide - Introduction

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Editions of Special Words

Special Words is available in two editions:

  • Special Words
    A native app for iPad & iPhone or for Android & Chromebook. This is the most basic edition available from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore.
  • Special Words Plus
    A web-based edition that can be used on iPad, iPhone, Android, Chromebook, Windows, Mac and Linux. It has all the features of Special Words, a free 14-day trial, 350+ Special iApps resources, 70+ Numicon resources, new features and much more.

Special Words default word list - ball, book, dolly, carThe native edition (Special Words) is available as paid apps from the app stores. The web-based edition (Special Words Plus) is available on a paid subscription basis directly from Special iApps. We recommend purchasing Special Words Plus because subscription is not limited to specific hardware platforms and has many more features than the native edition. To use a web-based edition, you will first need to install it as detailed in Chapter 2.

This user guide relates to both editions, noting where there are differences between them. In particular, the look & feel of the native Android/Chromebook editions is slightly different from the web-based and native iOS editions.

About Special Words

Special Words can be used to teach and assess recognition of written and spoken words, to encourage speech and communication. It also helps 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.

Special Words Plus blue shapes resource - blue circle, blue semicircle, blue oval

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

With 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.

For those who are unable to use a touch screen, but who can operate switches, the app can be used with 1, 2 or 3 Bluetooth-connected adaptive / assistive switches.

The Durham iPad Project Evaluation 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.

Personalise the App

Personalised resource - WilliamYou can personalise resources by adding your own words, pictures and audio, reordering and deleting words, and easily synchronise to your other devices.

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.

You can easily transfer personalised text, pictures and sounds between your devices, in a variety of ways. You can have more than one set of words, or profiles, 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.

Language Support

Special Words comes with 96 written words children use in their early vocabulary. It includes matching pictures, written and real human voices, in 28 languages: English (American, British and Australian), Afrikaans, Albanian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Dutch, Flemish, Finnish, French, German, Greek (Special Words Plus only), 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.


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

Please note:

We stopped offering Special Words Pro on the App Store, Google Play and Amazon in March 2021. This edition of the app was developed upon to become Special Words Plus, with even more features and resources. If you have previously downloaded Special Words Pro, you may continue to use it but no further updates will be provided.

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