B2 is a Paralympic disability sport classification for blind sport.
B2 is a disability sport classification for people who are visually impaired. The International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) defines this classification as "From ability to recognise the shape of a hand to a visual acuity of 2/60 and/or visual field of less than 5 degrees. " The Canadian Paralympic Committee defined this classification as "Up to approximately 3-5% functional vision." A competitor in this class could read a newspaper if it was no further than 4 centimetres (1.6 in) away. This classification is borrowed by some other sports, including blind golf who also define the class as "From ability to recognise the shape of a hand up to visual acuity of 2/60 or visual field of less than 5 degrees". Para-alpine skiing sport specific versions of this definition include one by the Australian Paralympic Committee which defined this classification as this classification as "Athletes with some partial vision or the ability to recognise the shape of a hand but have a field of vision less than five degrees." The International Paralympic Committee defined this classification for alpine skiing as "From ability to recognise the shape of a hand up to a visual acuity of 2/60 and/or visual field of less than 5 degrees."
This classification has parallels in other sports. The comparative classification in adaptive rowing is LTA-B2. In equestrian, Grade 4 is equivalent to B2. The B2 equivalent for swimming is S12.
IBSA handles classification for a number of sports internationally including five-a-side football, goalball and judo. Part of being classified involves assessing vision for factors including visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, color vision, motion detections and visual field. When being assessed into this class by the IBSA, the process first includes the athlete filling out a consent form, submitting a photograph, and scheduling an appointment with a classifier for evaluation. During the actual evaluation, the competitor may be accompanied by another person to assist them in communicating with the classifiers. If necessary, the person can also bring a translator. The assessment is then conducted and is medical. There are several status groups used by classifiers that assist in classification. This includes confirmed for competitors who have a visual impairment unlikely to change, Review for competitors who have vision that may fluctuate, New for competitors who have never been classified before, Not Eligible for competitors who have a visual impairment that is not severe enough and not likely to deteriorate in the future to the point where they could be eligible.
Classification is also handled on a national and by sport level. Australians seeking classification for blind sports can be classified by an IBSA classifier or an Australian Paralympic Committee vision impairment classifier. In the United Kingdom, blind sport is handled by British Blind Sport, which is recognised nationally by Sport England. In the United States, governance related to this classification is handled by the United States Association for Blind Athletes (SABA).
Not all sports use IBSA classifiers. For adaptive rowing, classification assignment may be handled by FISA, as was the case at the 2008 Summer Paralympics. In athletics, classification assignment may be handled by the IPC, as was the case at the 2008 Summer Paralympics. Cycling classification assignment for this class may be handled by the UCI, as was the case at the 2008 Summer Paralympics. In para-equestrian, classification assignment for this class was handled by the FEI. Classification is handled by IPC Swimming, with classification assignment for the 2008 Summer Paralympics handled by the IPC.
This classification traces its history to the early history of blind sport. There was a belief that those with vision impairment that was less severe had a competitive advantage over competitors who had more severe impairment. Classification was developed by the IBSA to insure more even competition across the different bands of visual acuity. In 1976, the International Sports Organization for the Disabled (ISOD) developed a blind classification system. Parallel to this, IBSA and national blind sport associations were developing their own classification system, with the IBSA one based on visual acuity in place by 1980. The rise of the IBSA classification system for blind sport meant the ISOD classification system failed to gain traction in blind sports competition.
The IBSA classification system has largely remained unchanged since it was put in place, even as the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) attempted to move towards a more functional disability and evidence based system that does not rely on medical based classification. In 2003, the IPC made an attempt in 2003 to address "the overall objective to support and co-ordinate the ongoing development of accurate, reliable, consistent and credible sport focused classification systems and their implementation." The IPC approved a classification system at the IPC General Assembly in 2007. This classification was part of the overall blind class group, and was still medically based despite changes in other disability types. IBSA was not prepared at the time to move towards a more functional classification system that is utilized other disability groups and sports.
In some cases, non-Paralympic, non-IBSA affiliated sports have developed their own classification systems. This is the case with blind golf, where a classification existed by 1990 and was used at the Australian Open Golf Tournament for the Blind and Visually Impaired. At that time, four classifications existed and were the same as the IBSA for this class.
In 1990, the Equestrian Federation of Australia did not have specific classifications for competitors with disabilities, including those with visual impairments. Acknowledging membership needs though, some rules had organically developed that looked like classifications based on rule modification for different disability types including blind riders. These included allowing blind riders, when they reached a marker, being given an auditory signal to inform them of this.
Equipment utilized by competitors in this class may include sighted guides, guide rails, beeping balls and clap sticks.
For blind archery, archers in this class use a tactile sighting device and must not be able to use a bowsight.
Guides are used in para-alpine and para-Nordic skiing. Guides for B2 and B3 skiers often position themselves differently than they do for B1 skiers as the skiers in this class have some vision, which means the things a guide assists with will be different than what is required of a skier who has almost no sight. The guide may ski in front of the skier and use visual cues to inform the skier of what is ahead of them on the course.
For cyclists in this class, a guide is used with the guide sitting at the front of a tandem bicycle. When a cyclist is looking for a guide, they are encouraged to find one with a pace similar to their own.
In blind cricket, B2 batsmen have the option of having a runner.
In blind cricket, three players in this class are required to be on the field at the same out of the eleven total players on the pitch. B2 batsmen have the option of having a runner.
In judo, all three blind sport classes compete against each other in judo with competitors classified by weight for the purposes of competition. Weight classes use the international standards used in the Olympics.
In IBSA sailing competitions, the three person boat can have a maximum of five points, and must include at least one female and one male sailor on the boat. In competitions run by Blind Sailing International, this class sometimes competes only against other boats with where all the sailors are in this class.
The swimmer competes under the normal rules governing FINA swimming competitions except for the optional use of a tapper.
On the Paralympic level, a number of disability sports are not open to this classification or other visually impaired competitors including archery, basketball, boccia, curling, fencing, ice sledge hockey, powerlifting, rugby, shooting, table tennis, tennis, volleyball. Five-a-side football is not open to women.
This classification is not eligible to compete at the Paralympic Games in archery.
Eligible Paralympic sports for this classification include adaptive rowing, athletics, cycling five-a-side football, goalball, judo, para-equestrian, para-alpine skiing, para-Nordic skiing, and swimming.
In swimming, the B1 class is significantly slower than B2 and B3 classes in 100 meter freestyle. The B3 class is significantly faster than B1 and B2 in the 100 meter backstroke.
While this classifications is open to five-a-side blind football, women are not eligible to compete at the Paralympic Games. This classification is eligible to play goalkeeper but in some competitions is not allowed to be a field player.
The classification is used in athletics. Competitors have the option of using a guide in athletics. When a runner is looking for a guide, they are encouraged to find one with a gait similar to their own. The equivalent athletics classification is T12. Athletes in this class can generally perceive the links on the track A rope or tether may be used to connect the runner to the guide. For field events such as the long jump or discuss, a caller may be used. For runners in this class, running with a guide is often a personal preference. Some runners use guides only in practice, others only in competition, others in both competition and practice, and others never use guides. For the 2008 Summer Paralympics, classification assignment for this class was handled by the IPC. At the 2012 Summer Paralympics, it was the first time guides in athletics were awarded medals. At the elite level, guides are treated the same as the blind runner. Guides and runners must both use blocks for any race shorter than 400 meters. In 200 meter races, the guide runs on the right side of the runner. For races 800 meters or longer, a runner may use up to two guides but the course officials must be informed of any decision to use more than one guide in advance of the race. In the marathon, the runner may use up to four different guides. The runner must finish ahead of the guide. In running, the guide should attempt to match the running pattern of the runner, not the other way around.
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