Special iApps – Award-Winning Educational Apps


Special iApps

Proven to encourage many areas of a child’s development, they are supporting children with their education worldwide.

About Special iApps

Special iApps is a non-profit social enterprise founded by Beverley and Colin Dean in 2011 after they couldn’t find the apps needed to teach their youngest son William, who has Down syndrome and Autism. They found that most apps had too much going on in the background, weren’t configurable or easily personalised, and didn’t cater for William’s needs.

Since then, they have developed a range of award-winning educational apps that are being used around the world in over 26 languages to support children with their education and development both at home, in school and by speech and language specialists. 

They have worked closely with parents, teachers, and education and healthcare professionals to develop the activities within each of their apps in order for them to have a beneficial impact.

Special iApps

All of their apps are developed in collaboration with education and healthcare professionals, and parents of children who have additional needs. Their apps are different because they are uncluttered, have no adverts or tracking, and be configured and personalised to suit a child’s interests and individual needs. The apps they currently offer are:

Special Words – Develop Communication and Language Skills

Achieve educational milestones with their award-winning app designed for speech and language development.

Their flagship app has become invaluable for visual learners, designed to:

  • Enhance communication, language and literacy skills
  • Encourage speaking and help with clarity
  • Increase sight word vocabulary
  • Develop hand-eye co-ordination
  • Improve fine motor skills
  • Use your own text photos and audio to bring the learning experience to life
  • Adjustable settings to suit abilities and concentration levels 
  • Transfer content to and from our Special Stories app to reinforce learning

Special Words Web (Free Edition)

Try the activities in Special Words for free before you buy either of the paid editions.

Includes fully-functioning activities with 20 of the 96 pictures, words and audio, but no personalisation or sharing facilities.

Can be used on iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android, Windows, Mac & Linux for up to 28 days. Requires registration.

Special Words (Standard Edition)

Includes 96 pictures and matching written and spoken words in 27 languages. Easily personalise with your own words, photos and voice, and share content between devices.

Available for Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, Android tablets and phones. The iOS version includes support for Bluetooth and USB-connected switches.  The Android version is compatible with Chromebooks running recent versions of Chrome OS.

Special Words Pro (Professional Edition)

Special Words Pro is ideal for educators, therapists and parents wishing to do more with their child. 

It offers everything in the Standard Edition, plus printing, assessment sheets, dual control, and a growing library of curriculum resources which are a great way to extend a child’s learning.

Available for Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

Special Words Pro – Assess Speech, Communication and Language Development

Proven to dramatically improve attainment levels, the activities in Special Words Pro ensure children are always actively learning and making progress with their education and personal development.

Special Words Pro supports many areas of a child’s development:

  • Proven to develop expressive and receptive language
  • Teach and assess recognition of written and spoken words
  • Enhance language and literacy skills
  • Encourage listening and speaking skills
  • Develop hand-eye coordination
  • Improve fine motor skills
  • Build and develop confidence

As well as all the features of the Standard Edition, Special Words Pro also includes:

  • Printable cards to use in paper-based activities
  • Free access to curriculum-related content
  • Dual control using external keyboards
  • Extensive range of sharing options
  • Printable assessment sheets to easily monitor progress


The user interface and Quick Start Guide are provided in 27 languages, but the app can be used to create word lists in any language.

Available for Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Special Stories – Create Social Stories and Talking Books

Designed to break learning down into small steps, Special Stories is the perfect tool to help children and young adults prepare for social situations and changes ahead.

This app has a range of uses and is adaptable to all children, helping to:

  • Improve sight-reading skills
  • Develop spoken language
  • Improving listening and language skills
  • Encourage word, picture and sound recognition
  • Helping with social skills
  • Explaining step-by-step tasks
  • Creating talking books and organising photos
  • Create social stories and visual schedules
  • Sharing news with family and friends
  • Support home-school communication
  • Personalise stories with your own text, photos and audio

You can transfer content to and from their Special Words app into Special Stories, which is a fantastic way to extend and reinforce the learning process. You can also copy your stories to Special Stories on another phone or tablet, as well as exchanging the books you have created through email, AirDrop, Wi-Fi, Dropbox and Google Drive.

The user interface and Quick Start Guide are provided in 18 languages, but the app can be used to create stories in any language.

The iOS version of Special Stories includes support for Bluetooth and USB-connected switches.

They also have detailed user guides for Special Stories, for both iOS and Android users.

Special Numbers – Develop Early Number Skills

Used in educational settings around the world to develop vital early number skills.

Designed the app in collaboration with parents, teachers and educational psychologists, the app has:

  • Wide range of activities: counting, matching, ordering, comparing and selecting
  • Easily configured to suit different abilities and interests, and grow with children as their skills and confidence develops
  • Develop hand-eye coordination
  • Improve fine motor skills
  • Clear and uncluttered activities that can be used in any order
  • Adjustable number range between 1 and 20
  • Adjustable settings to suit abilities and concentration levels

The user interface and Quick Start Guide are provided in 11 languages, but you can quickly and easily replace text and audio to use in any language.

Special Numbers is available for Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

Special Numbers will also be coming to Android very soon. Join their mailing list to be the first to know when it is released!

Match & Find – Improve Working Memory

The apps child-friendly activities put children in control of their learning and provide an educational tool adaptable to all abilities.

Working memory is incredibly important for the development of language and numeracy skills. To develop this area, the app features:

  • Range of activites to develop memory, matching, searching and sequencing skills
  • Train and improve different aspects of visual and auditory memory
  • Contains a set of 12 easily-recognised animal pictures, as well as corresponding written words to more on to as abilities and confidence develops
  • Spoken words included in 9 languages to exercise different aspects of memory, and provide varying levels of auditory support
  • Support for those with poor fine-motor skills
  • Colour schemes to assist visually-impaired children
  • Clear and uncluttered that can be used in any order

The user interface and Quick Start Guide are provided in 9 languages.

Match & Find is available for the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. It includes support for Bluetooth-connected switches.

Match & Find will also be coming to Android very soon. Join their mailing list to be the first to know when it is released!

My 1st Signs – Develop Your Sign Vocabulary

Provide children a voice through developing their BSL sign vocabulary.

Developed with parents and teachers of children with special educational needs, and teachers or the deaf, the app allows you to: 

  • Grow and access vocabulary with 150+ words and pictures and over 200+ corresponding Let’s Sign Illustrations
  • Easy to personalise with your own photos and voice, and own choice of wording
  • Quickly select signs to use, to grow and assess vocabulary
  • Develop language skills and build confidence
  • Improve sign and word recognition
  • Encourage interaction and communication, and transition from pictures to written words
  • Suitable for BSL (British Sign Language) learners and those who use Sign Supported English (SSE) and Makaton

Their app includes BSL sign graphics from the popular Let’s Sign BSL Series by Cath Smith, along with matching pictures, written words and optional use of spoken words. BSL is a living community language and “Let’s Sign” like all languages, it is rich with variation and regional dialects. The app included ov