Paralympic Athletes with Vision Impairment
Athletes competing in Paralympic sports fall broadly into three categories: physical impairments, vision impairment and intellectual impairment. For the vision-impaired athletes, there are degrees of blindness, and some require the help of assistants while others can perform on their own with their limited amount of vision.
How Blind Can You Be?
Athletes are classified according to their level of corrected vision. They must have an impairment in both eyes, that meets the minimal disability criteria of visual acuity that is less than 6/60 and/or a visual field that is less than a radius of 40 degrees. Normal visual acuity is called 6/6, which corresponds to the bottom or second bottom line of the chart. If you can only read the top line of the chart then this would be 6/60.
Blind Sports & Events
- Goalball — teams of three, and try to throw a ball into the opponents' goal. The sport is played exclusively by athletes who are blind or visually impaired. athletes wear blackout eye masks on the playing court, which allows players with varying degrees of vision to participate together.
- Football 5-a-side — this variation of indoor soccer is open to all athletes with visual impairments, who must wear blindfolds to ensure a level playing field for all athletes.
- Athletes with vision impairment also compete Para-archery, Para-athletics, Para-cycling, Para-equestrian, Para-judo, Para-rowing, Para-shooting, Para-swimming, Para-taekwondo and Para-triathlon.
Sighted assistants are used by some Paralympians with vision impairments, such as:
- Running Guides — "guide runners" can be attached to an athlete by a strap on their arms or hands, though the athlete must finish ahead of the guide.
- Cycling Pilots — some visually impaired cyclists pair up with a guide who rides in the front on a tandem bike, and is known as a pilot.
- Swimming Tappers — in the pool some visually impaired swimmers have "tappers" who tap the athlete's head or body as they approach turns or the finish.
- Paralympic Impairment Categories
- Events and Sports of the Summer Olympic Games
- Main Paralympics page