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Why won't the app play or record sound?

Apple devices ask you to give permission the first time any particular app wants to use the microphone. If you say no, then the app will seem to make a recording, but when you play back it will be silent. If this is the case, open the Settings app, and in Privacy > Microphone check that the app is listed and enabled (the switch must be green). If the app is not shown there at all, reset the device's privacy settings, in the Settings app under General > Reset > Reset Location & Privacy. Then try again to make a recording.

If that's not the solution, check the device's volume control and mute button. When the device is muted, some apps will still produce sound, while others won't. On older iPads, if you use the switch on the side of the device above the volume control as a Lock Rotation button, it may not be obvious if the device is muted or how to unmute it: the answer is to tap the bell button in the Control Centre (swipe up from the bottom of the home screen to reveal this).

Also check the settings for the individual app: Special Words, Special Stories and Match & Find have Using Sound or Playing Sound settings and Special Numbers has Playing Sound settings for each individual activity.

If one of our apps displays an error message Audio Error: Cannot record sound on iOS, this can be because the device needs restarting. In this case, press and hold the sleep button on the top of the device until the message slide to power off appears, power it off and press and hold the sleep button again to restart it.

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 mobile device in its Settings app (under General > Language & Region or General > International on iOS, or Language & input on Android). 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.

In Special Words and Special Numbers on iOS, 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 region format to “Australia” (iOS 6) or set the device's language to “Australian English” (iOS 7 and later); 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).

In Special Words and Special Numbers, you can select a different language for each individual profile, without having to change the device's language or region format, as explained in the Special Words User Guide, and the Special Numbers User Guide.

In Match & Find you can override the default language, as explained in the Match & Find User Guide.

Note that you need to set the language explicitly to use languages not supported by the device, e.g. for Luxembourgish, Hindi (prior to iOS 8), Icelandic and Welsh in Special Words. Some languages on iOS cannot be specified as iPad/iPhone language in the Settings app, for example Albanian and Bulgarian, but you can instead specify one of these as preferred language in “Other Languages” in the Settings app.If you change the device's language on iOS, you may end up with multiple keyboard layouts: you can delete any you don't want in the Settings app (under General > Keyboard).

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

In Special Words and Special Stories, you can use our “Special Letters” font (the default) or either of the two OpenDyslexic fonts included in the app. On Apple devices, you can also select any font installed on the device. You change the font from the app's settings. In Special Stories, you can also change the font size.

In Special Words, there is a “Capital Letters” setting. If you turn this on, the written words associated with the cards will be displayed in CAPITAL LETTERS.

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 speakers only costing around £10 - 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 using the device'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 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.

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.