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As an outcome of the historical development and the growth of the Paralympic Movement each 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 issues.

These include: the definition of key terms, the basis for determining minimum disability criteria and the measurement methods. The IPC has recognised the need to co-ordinate classification, which led to the development of the IPC Classification Code. This aims ‘to support and co-ordinate the development and implementation of accurate, reliable and consistent sport focused classification systems’ (Code, Introduction).

This includes the mandate for the development of evidence-based systems of classification (Code, art. 15.2).

Sean Tweedy, member of the IPC Classification Committee and Yves Vanlandewijck, chairperson of the IPC Sports Science Committee, wrote a scientific paper on the “Background and Scientific Rationale for Classification in Paralympic Sport,” which the IPC adopted as the official position on research in classification (IPC Handbook, Section 2, Chapter 4.4).

As a consequence of now having a conceptual framework for Paralympic classification (Classification Code and Position Stand), Paralympic systems of classification must:

  • 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.

All sports now initiate self-auditing processes determining the extent of compliance with the above provisions.

In recent years the concept of expert meetings has proven a successful means of sharing knowledge, expertise and resources. This is done through bringing together: academics, sport scientists and Paralympic sport experts.

The academics are instrumental in assessing impairment, and sports scientists supported the development of able-bodied equivalents of Paralympic sports.

The complementary expertise of these key players ensures the further development of Paralympic classification systems. Thus, ensuring these systems focus on the development of objective, reliable methods for measuring both the core constructs of the model (impairment and activity limitation).

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.

The activities of the centres are supervised by the IPC Classification Research Steering Group, which is comprised of athletes, IPC Classification Committee and IPC Sports Science Committee members.

Classification Research Grant

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.

The total budget for the 2017 Classification Research Grant Scheme is 150,000 EUR.

The maximum grant per individual projects is 20,000 EURO with a guaranteed matched funding by the International Sport Federations, International Organisations of Sports for the Disabled or Recognised International Sport Federations and/or third parties of (at minimum) 30% of the budget requested (this is: an application of 20,000 EUR must have a guaranteed matched funding of 6,000 EUR).

Applications will only be accepted from International Sport Federations, International Organisations of Sports for the Disabled and Recognised International Sport Federations, and are due to be submitted by 15 July 2017 using the Application Form.

Applicants will be informed no later than 1 October 2017 of the result of their application.

For further details, please see the enclosed 2017 Classification Research Grant Scheme – Application Guidelines and Application Form.

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

We invite International Sport Federations, International Organisations of Sports for the Disabled and Recognised International Sport Federations to embrace this opportunity to further develop and strengthen their classification systems.

We look forward to your application!

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