The International Paralympic Committee (IPC), in conjunction with the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), ran a successful classification course last weekend.
The course was part of the recertification pathway for existing visually impaired (VI) classifiers and was also open to new candidate classifiers.
New candidates had to present themselves as qualified ophthalmologists or optometrists, in addition to having a proven record of expertise in low vision.
The course, run by the IPC Academy, the education partner of the IPC, took place at the Gustav-Stresemann-Institut in Bonn, Germany.
During the two-day course, different aspects of VI-classification were addressed, including a training session with the new visual acuity measurement tools, updates of visual field assessment techniques, sports governance, eligibility criteria, medical diagnostics information requirements, classification rules, policies and procedures.
Crucial to the success of the course was the training in visual acuity assessment by Dr. Ian Bailey, a professor of optometry and vision science at the University of California.
Participants hailed from around the world, coming from Europe, South America, North America, Asia and Australia. In total, 25 of the 26 participants successfully completed the course and became certified VI-classifiers on behalf of the IPC and IBSA.
There are nine different Paralympic sports that involve athletes with visual impairments: Cycling, Equestrian, Athletics, Swimming, Nordic Skiing, Alpine Skiing, Judo, Goalball and Football 5-a-side.
Due to the success of the course, and to increase classification opportunities for athletes with visual impairment, IPC Medical and Scientific Director Dr. Peter Van de Vliet said the course will be offered again early next year in the lead up the London 2012 Paralympic Games.