Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Parents' Learning Apps Taking World by Storm; TECHNOLOGY

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Parents' Learning Apps Taking World by Storm; TECHNOLOGY

Article excerpt

Byline: COREENA FORD coreena.ford@ncjmedia.co.uk

AFAMILY business inspired by a couple's quest to find educational apps for their disabled child is now seeing its products used in more than 100 countries around the world.

Special iApps has grown in only four years to have a global reach with its apps, which are sold through the Apple and Google Play stores, being available in 22 languages and international sales accounting for more than 70% of revenues.

The Durham-based firm was founded by Beverley and Colin Dean, who were inspired by the difficulty they had in finding appropriate learning apps for their son William.

The nine-year-old was born with Down's Syndrome and a number of physical problems, including duodenal atresia, Hirschsprung's disease, hearing impairment and thyroid deficiency, which affect his speech and learning abilities.

Both come from an IT background, so set about devising their own apps, which are engaging and stimulating for young people with disabilities and learning difficulties, and only months later, saw their first App, Special Words, retailing around the world.

Special iApps has been supported since its inception by chartered accountants Leathers LLP.

Catherine Milbanke, partner at Leathers, which has offices in Newcastle and Durham, has worked with Mr and Mrs Dean since their business was still a concept, and is now a non executive director.

Since its launch four years ago, the business has grown to such a level that their website, specialiapps.org, is being relaunched in response to global demand.

Supported by 50 volunteers, the team has won a host of accolades, including success at the Vodafone Foundation Europe Awards and Excellence in Diversity Awards.

Mrs Dean said: "The whole business stemmed from when we received a grant for William to have an iPad, and while he was amazed by it, there was very little to hold his attention. …

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