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Special Words User Guide - Introduction

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Editions of Special Words

Over time there have been 3 different editions of Special Words:

  • Special Words and Special Words Pro
    The original editions for iPad & iPhone or for Android & Chromebook. These used to be available from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore, but are no longer available and no longer supported.
  • Special Words Plus
    The current web-based edition that can be used on iPad, iPhone, Android, Chromebook, Windows, Mac and Linux. It has all the features and content of the previous editions, and much more. Like our other web-based apps, Special Words Plus is downloaded directly from Special iApps, and is included as part of all paid subscriptions to Special iApps Membership. An annually-renewing subscription with a 14-day free trial can be purchased on the Special iApps website. Subscriptions cannot be purchased from any other stores.

Special Words default word list - ball, book, dolly, carTo use a web-based edition, you will first need to install it as detailed in Chapter 2.

This user guide is for Special Words Plus, not previous editions. For the sake of brevity, in some places we refer to Special Words Plus as just Special Words.

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, 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.

Additional Lists of Words

Hundreds of additional lists of words can be downloaded in Special Words. These include ones using Makaton Symbols and Numicon Shapes, as well as a wide range of topic-based lists with images by Special iApps. Access to these resources is included in Special iApps Membership, but for Makaton Symbols a Makaton membership is also required.


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

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