A postal survey of all computerised children's disability registers in the UK was undertaken in 1996.Information was returned from 155 of 166 districts (93%). The implementation of computerised special needs registers is a continuing nationwide trend. Although there is evidence of successful use of registers both as an individual and as a population service planning tool, a high percentage of existing registers are functioning in a way which is far short of their potential for research, audit, and planning. Registers which work well have been set up with expertise, have staff enthusiastic about data entry, and are well supported for data output and software modification. There should be continued cooperative work towards a national consensus on the categories of disability and definitions of severity of disability used in these registers.
(Arch Dis Child 1998;78:312-315)