The gap between mainstream and special needs pupils would be narrowed by giving the latter access to computers at an earlier age, a charity has claimed.
AbilityNet, which supports special needs pupils, said many pupils with disabilities lack vital play opportunities because they do not have computers. Mainstream children learn essential motor skills by scribbling with crayons from a very early age. But many children with disabilities are incapable of holding a pen, pencil or crayon, so often depend on computers to express themselves.
The charity says the children are at a disadvantage before they start school and that digital games involving colouring, letters and numbers can fulfil the same purpose for disabled pupils as paper and crayons do for mainstream pupils.
AbilityNet is offering a pound;250,000 grant, to be divided among nurseries and early years centres, to pay for computers and technology.