Classification Research

classification research

As an outcome of the historical development and the growth of the Paralympic Movement each Para sport has developed its own system of classification. While the majority of these share key features, there is considerable variability on a range of fundamental areas. 

These include: the basis for determining Minimum Impairment Criteria, the measurement methods for assessing the Minimum Impairment Criteria and Sport Class allocation. The IPC has recognised the need to harmonise classification across the Paralympic Movement, which led to the development of the IPC Athlete Classification Code.

The Code aims to provide a clear statement of the purpose of athlete Classification, as well as a framework of policies and procedures that will uphold confidence in Classification systems across the Paralympic Movement. (IPC Athlete Classification Code, Introduction). 

This includes the mandate for the development of evidence-based systems of classification through multidisciplinary scientific research (IPC Athlete Classification Code, Article 10.2.1) 

Professors Sean Tweedy, and Yves Vanlandewijck wrote a scientific paper on the “Background and Scientific Rationale for Classification in Paralympic Sport,” which the IPC adopted as the official position statement on research in classification. (IPC Handbook). 

In 2018, the IPC Governing Board approved a second position statement, specifically for classification of athletes with vision impairment titled Position Statement on the sport-specific classification of athletes with vision impairment (IPC Handbook). 

As a consequence of now having a conceptual framework for Paralympic classification, Paralympic systems of classification should aim to: 

  • be consistent with the taxonomy and terminology of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF),
  • be based on scientific evidence, 
  • define eligible types of impairment (by sport),
  • define minimum impairment criteria, and 
  • classify impairments according to the extent of activity limitation caused.  


In order to support the activities across sports in the Paralympic Movement, the IPC has engaged three universities to assist the co-ordination of the classification research agenda, each centre being dedicated to one particular impairment type: 

  • Athletes with physical impairment - School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland, Australia (Sean Tweedy) 

  • Athletes with intellectual impairment - Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium (Yves Vanlandewijck) 

  • Athletes with vision impairment - Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, Free University Amsterdam, Netherlands (David Mann) 

Aside from leading sport specific classification research projects, these centres facilitate exchange of knowledge and dialogue with classification research groups to align concepts and applications across sports. 

They also assist sports and the IPC in delivering classifier training and provide advice on the further development of classification in the Paralympic Movement. 

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at


Please note that classification research grants are currently on hold until further notice. 

The Classification Research Grant Scheme has its origin in the Agitos Foundation Grant Support Programme, launched in 2013. This Agitos Foundation programme provided an opportunity for IFs and IOSDs to apply for financial support for ‘‘Classification research and strategies’’ initiatives. 

Following internal evaluation of the Agitos Foundation Grant Support Programme it was decided to remove classification research as a funding area for the Agitos Foundation and to develop a specific Classification Research Grant Scheme, managed by the IPC. This decision indicates the importance the IPC pays to classification research and gives International Sport Federations, International Organisations of Sports for the Disabled and Recognised International Sport Federations the opportunity to focus on other projects under the continued Agitos Foundation Grant Support Programme.


Classification Research Grant Application Form