Durham couple’s special app to help with teaching

Bev and Colin Dean with son William, six, using the Special Words app.
Bev and Colin Dean with son William, six, using the Special Words app.
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PARENTS Bev and Colin Dean have developed a new piece of educational software to make learning easier for their young son.

Now the Durham couple’s creation, Special Words, is helping children around the world after being sold in 25 countries.

Special Words, a picture and word-matching educational app designed for young children, was developed by Bev and Colin, who live in Gilesgate and whose son William, six, has Down’s Syndrome and other special educational needs.

It was through Bev’s involvement in Durham County Council’s Making Changes Together group, for parents with disabled children, that the idea for Special Words was sparked.

She said: “We got the original idea after a chance meeting with one of the parents on the group who suggested getting an Apple iPad to help William’s learning. We looked into it only to find that the various apps which already existed weren’t suitable or easy for young children to use.”

Colin and Bev, who both used to work in IT, decided to develop their own app with the help of William, a pupil at Gilesgate Primary School, and his brother Joseph, 12. They also received feedback from the Making Changes Together Group.

Now, the couple have set up a not-for-profit social enterprise company, called Special iApps, and earlier this month launched Special Words, which has been translated into eight different languages.

Bev said: “William uses Special Words both at home and at school and we’ve already noticed a big difference.

“Other families have also given us really positive feedback about the effect it’s having on their children’s learning.”

Councillor Claire Vasey, cabinet member for children and young people’s services at Durham County Council, said: “This is a fantastic achievement.

“It’s particularly pleasing to know that one of the factors which sparked this project was the fact that Bev was a member of our Making Changes Together participation group. It really shows what can be achieved through parents getting together and sharing ideas, which is exactly what the participation group is all about.”

Proceeds from the sale of Special Words will be used in the development of further apps and to support charities which work with children with special educational needs.

l People can find out more by visiting www.specialiapps.co.uk

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