Para Bowls Classification

 

Bowler with cerebral palsy

Bowler using a stick and preparing to deliver bowl

Visually impaired bowler with director

Introduction

Classification provides a structure for fair competition in disability bowls. Eligible participants have a limitation, loss of body function or structure (impairment) that leads to a competitive disadvantage in mainstream bowls.

Classification minimises the impact of a bowler’s impairment on performance and ensures that success is determined by skill, preparation and mental strength.  Eligibility is determined by sport specific classifiers who assign bowlers to specific sport classes determined by their activity limitation.

Within Scottish Disability Sport (SDS) the responsibility for bowls classification rests with the Branch or identified area bowls representatives. At international level bowls classification is administered by approved classifiers appointed by the appropriate bowls international body e.g. IBBA (blind and visually impaired bowlers) and IBD (para-sport bowls).

SDS Branch and SDS National Championships Classification

  • Scottish Disability Sport and its member Branches provide competitions for junior and senior bowlers with a physical, sensory or learning disability. Competition opportunities vary across Scotland. The SDS National Championships provide single hand competitions for the leading bowlers with a physical, sensory or learning disability who qualify through Branch or Area Championships. The Inter Area competition for bowlers with a learning disability offers singles, pairs and triples for Branch leading male and female bowlers with a learning disability. At local and national level SDS works in partnership with clubs in membership of Bowls Scotland to deliver quality bowls competitions.
  • Scottish Disability Sport has identified divisions within disability sport and these divisions influenced the SDS bowls classification system introduced to Scottish sport in the 1970s and successfully implemented at SDS National and Branch championships for almost 40 years.

 

Divisions

Divisions are described as follows:

  • Bowlers with a sensory impairment;
  • Blind or visually impaired bowlers;
  • Bowlers who are deaf or hearing impaired. Bowlers who have a hearing impairment only are not included in the SDS National Championships;
  • Bowlers with a physical impairment;
  • Bowlers who are ambulant and have a physical impairment;
  • Bowlers who use a wheelchair for sports;
  • Bowlers with a learning disability.

Physical Impairment

Bowlers with a physical impairment may have an amputation, congenital absence of limbs, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, spinal injury, achondroplasia (dwarf) or some other similar medical/health condition. Classifiers do not classify a medical/health condition but look for impairments which occur as a result of the condition. For example, a bowler with the condition of cerebral palsy and the impairment of hypertonicity in the lower extremities, might be limited in the activity of bowls by being unable to take up a flexed comfortable delivery position. Eligible bowlers will have a clear activity limitation. Bowlers have the choice of bowling from a wheelchair, kneeling with or without support, standing or any other stance that assists delivery technique.

Learning Disability

Bowlers with a learning disability/intellectual impairment will have an IQ of 75 or less, significant limitations in adaptive behaviour/social adaption and an age of onset pre 18 years. Bowlers with Down’s Syndrome for example, will compete in this open division. At Branch level sections are provided within this division that reflect the different levels of ability within the local community of bowlers with a learning disability. At the high performance end of sport for athletes/players with a learning disability/intellectual impairment, classification tests are administered by an Educational or Clinical Psychologist.

Sensory Impairment

Within the division for bowlers with a sensory impairment, Scottish Disability Sport does not provide separate/discrete competition opportunities for deaf bowlers. Deaf bowlers are encouraged to pursue their interests in bowls through mainstream sport – open activity according to the SDS Sports Inclusion Model (SIM). If however a bowler has a hearing impairment in addition to an intellectual, visual or physical impairment they will be eligible for the SDS National and/or Branch competition programme. Within the SDS programme, blind and eligible visually impaired bowlers will slot into one or other of three international classes described below. SDS does not recognise the Class B4 at national level but will include in the national championships visually impaired bowlers who have an international classification of B4 and are eligible to compete in the competition programme organised by the IBBA and IBD.

  • Class B1 – no light perception in either eye up to light perception but no recognition of hand movements at any distance or in any direction
  • Class B2 – from the ability to recognise hand movements up to a visual acuity of 2/60
  • Class B3 – from a visual acuity of better than 2/60 up to a visual acuity of 6/60

Visual field refers to the entire area that a person can see without shifting their gaze. For a person to be described as “legally blind”, they will have a visual field of less than 20 degrees. Visual acuity refers to the clarity of keenness of vision which a person can see. Normal visual acuity is 6/6 or 20/20. For a person to be described as “legally blind” they will have 6/60 vision or less. In other words a person cannot see in either eye at 6 metres, with corrective devices, what a person with normal vision can see at 60 metres.

The SDS classification system combines physically disabled and visually impaired bowlers in one class in most instances but provides separate classes for bowlers who use a wheelchair, bowlers who have a learning disability or intellectual impairment and bowlers who are totally blind.

The SDS classes are as follows:

  • Class 1 – totally blind bowlers. B1 class;
  • Class 2 – bowlers who use a wheelchair and have good arms, hands and trunk;
  • Class 3 – bowlers who use a wheelchair but have weakness in arms/trunk;
  • Class 4/5 – bowlers who are ambulant and not restricted by their physical impairment during delivery, plus bowlers in B3 class of visual impairment. Men (4) and women (5);
  • Class 6/7 – bowlers who are ambulant and restricted in their bowling arm, trunk or have balance difficulties plus bowlers in B2 class of visual impairment. Men (6) and women (7);
  • Class 8/9 – ambulant bowlers with a learning disability. Men (8) and women (9).

Classification System for Blind and Visually Impaired Bowlers only

The Scottish Association of Blind Bowlers (SABB), established in 1963, has jurisdiction over the competition programme and classification process for all blind and visually impaired bowlers in Scotland.

The SABB has access to a network of ophthalmologists who will assess the sight of individual bowlers and thereafter appropriately classify.

The SABB competition programme is available to blind and visually impaired bowlers only.

The classification system used by the SABB mirrors that of the international parent body, the International Blind Bowls Association (IBBA).

The system recognises four classes of blind and visually impaired bowlers.

  • Class B1 – no light perception in either eye up to light perception but no recognition of hand movements at any distance or in any direction;
  • Class B2 – from the ability to recognise hand movements up to a visual acuity of 2/60;
  • Class B3 – from a visual acuity of better than 2/60 up to a visual acuity of 6/60;
  • Class B4 – a visual acuity of better than 6/60 up to a visual acuity of worse than 6/24 and /or a significantly reduced visual field of 20 degrees or less.

In all classes the bowler has the option of being guided by a sighted director.

The International Bowls for the Disabled (IBD)

At international level, the ruling governing body for disability bowls, for all impairment groups, is the International Bowls for the Disabled (IBD). The IBD has appointed a chief classifier to oversee and administer classification throughout the international community of bowls nations.

The IBD system of classification for physically impaired bowlers is implemented at the IBD World Championships and the Para Sports bowls competition at the Commonwealth Games.

Classification is carried out only at IBD sanctioned events by internationally approved IBD classifiers. Classification panels normally consist of a minimum of two classifiers with at least one classifier professionally qualified to conduct a physical assessment.

The process by which a new international bowler is assessed by a classification panel, in order that the bowler may be allocated a sport class and a sport status, is called athlete evaluation. The physical assessment will be conducted in accordance with the sports profiles for the sports classes, to confirm that the bowler has an eligible impairment. This will be followed by a technical assessment in a non-competitive environment. The final stage of the process will be observation assessment, requiring the classification panel to observe the bowler in competition.

The IBD identifies the main sensory and physical functions of bowls as follows:

  • Vision – ability to see a jack and bowls on a full length end;
  • Grip – ability to hold and release a bowl;
  • Balance – in the stance and during delivery;
  • Step and bend – forward movement and lowering of the body to deliver a bowl;
  • Arm swing – back and forward movement of the arm during delivery;
  • Upper body strength – ability to play a full length end.

The IBD has identified the following classes and sports profiles for high performance bowlers with a physical impairment.

  • Class B6 – Ambulant and wheelchair bowlers with reduced balance function (loss of 5 points or more) but able to bowl a full length end;
  • Class B7 – Ambulant and wheelchair bowlers with minor balance problems (loss of less than 5 points);
  • Class B8 – Ambulant bowlers, who have a permanent and irreversible disability, have lost 10 points on the bench test, but have no noticeable impairment of function;

The classification system used by the IBD for blind and visually impaired bowlers mirrors that of the international parent body, the International Blind Bowls Association (IBBA). The system recognises four classes of blind and visually impaired bowlers.

  • Class B1 – no light perception in either eye up to light perception but no recognition of hand movements at any distance or in any direction;
  • Class B2 – from the ability to recognise hand movements up to a visual acuity of 2/60;
  • Class B3 – from a visual acuity of better than 2/60 up to a visual acuity of 6/60;
  • Class B4 – a visual acuity of better than 6/60 up to a visual acuity of worse than 6/24 and /or a significantly reduced visual field of 20 degrees or less.
  • In all classes the bowler has the option of being guided by a sighted director.

More detailed information is available on the IBD web site:
www.interdisabledbowls.org

Download the Para Bowls Classification booklet here.