At Special iApps, we develop educational apps to support children with special educational needs, including autism and Down syndrome. We took on social investment, in the form of blended finance (loan and grant), from Northstar Ventures to help develop our work.
Special iApps tackles the challenges kids face in their education and development.
For children who have a learning disability, poor fine motor skills, speech and communication challenges there are many barriers in their way: Difficulties with speech mean they cannot tell others what they know; poor fine motor skills mean that they are unable to write; their disability hinders development so they are at often at lower attainment levels and take longer to reach each milestone in their development from birth to adulthood.
There are challenges and problems encountered by the parents, carers as well as professionals - such as speech therapist and teachers who want to support children who have Special Educational Needs thrive to reach their full potential. Creating resources to support learning at home as well as in school is time-consuming. Paper resources are bulky and not easily adapted for each child's own needs with their interest as well as ability.
We support children who have Special Educational Needs to reach their true potential using edtech. Our own son has complex needs, Down syndrome and autism so we’ve first hand experience on the struggles he has had when younger and whilst growing up. Providing apps that can be personalised and tailored to the abilities of each child helps them to learn and develop in a number of areas including: speech, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, self-esteem and self-confidence as well as building vocabulary, improving literacy and numeracy skills and developing working memory.
Our apps are used by kids in Early Years, in Primary and Secondary schools (both mainstream and special school settings) as well as by adults who use or apps to continue developing numeracy and literacy plus supporting independence, social stories and life skills. Parent carers as well as other supporting adults such as Speech therapists and teachers can quickly and easily create personalised resources to support learning and development as well as communication.
Our Special Words app is used to support literacy, build vocabulary, support speech and reading. Special Stories is used to create social stories, for home-school communication as well as step-by-step instructions to support independence. Special Numbers helps with number skills, counting and sequencing and Match & Find helps develop working memory. They are all apps that support young children as well as adults who have Special Educational Needs to reach their full potential.
We received a £20,000 Big Venture Challenge Grant plus £40,000 Fresh Ideas Grant plus £125,000 NESIF loan (£90,000 drawn to date - July 2019). We sell apps that are bought by individuals (such as parent/carers or professionals such as Speech Therapists that run their own business) as well as organisations (such as schools, charities and parent support groups)
Social investment has had a positive impact on our work as it’s allowed us to have unrestricted funds to grow and develop our business alongside grant funding. Funding unlocks other resources as well as giving us time and skills to develop our products and services which in turn extends the reach of our social impact.
- Beverley Dean MBE, Founder
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