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29 May 2017

IWRF Classification Committe Update

By Greg Unger


Since our last update, the IWRF Classification Committee has continued to work on a number of key areas, in order to continuously improve our Classification System.  The key activities undertaken and achievements over the last 3 months have been:


  • Continuing data collection for our research on the measurement of co-ordination impairment. We are still looking for additional participants in this research, so you may be approached by your National Head Classifier to assist.  We would appreciate your help!
  • Continuing research with the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport to improve our insight into on court activities of athletes, depending on arm and trunk impairment.
  • Establishing a research partnership with the IPC Classification Research Centre in Brisbane, Australia to develop validated methods of estimating limb length in athletes with congenital or acquired limb loss. This research will allow us to further develop and improve our measurement system for this athlete group.
  • Preparing to present the results of a number of our research projects at the Vista Conference in Toronto in September 2017.  The theme of the conference is “Opportunities, Challenges in Paralympic Sport Science & Sport Medicine Support”.  Classifiers Viola Altmann and Andreia Gatti have had 3 papers accepted for presentation at the conference so far, so the IWRF will again be very well represented.
  • Continuing to work with the Classification Advisory Group on their proposal for a trial of Athlete Classifiers working as part of Classification Panels.  This proposal was recently approved by the IWRF Board, and can now proceed to the next stage.  The Classification Advisory Group will now develop a more detailed plan and timeline for the trial, and how this will roll out.
  • Continuing to work towards full compliance with the IPC Classification Code.  As part of this process, work is now well underway to completely rewrite the current Classification Manual so that it is aligned with the IPC Classification Model Rules. 

What is evidence-based classification?


The 2015 IPC Classification Code and International Standards are a series of requirements, released by the IPC, that aim to standardise policies and procedures for classification across all sports, while still allowing International Federations, such as the IWRF, to adapt these according to the needs of their respective sports. 


The Code strongly promotes the principle of evidence-based classification that is sport specific.  In the past, classification systems have been developed largely based on expert opinion.  It was often the case that classifiers, athletes, coaches and other support personnel provided expert opinion, and this drove the development of the respective sport classification systems. In contrast, evidence based classification relies on the results of scientific research to develop and improve measurement systems and classification processes, and is a much more rigorous and transparent approach.  For this reason, the IWRF Classification Committee has implemented an evidence-based approach to classification, and developed relationships with a number of research centres and universities around the world. 


As described above, current research in co-ordination impairment, on court activities, and congenital and acquired limb loss will contribute to improvements in the way we classify athletes with these impairment types.  The Classification Committee will continue to identify opportunities for evidence-based improvements to our classification system and would like to acknowledge both the amazing work done by our classifiers, performing this research in their free time, and the athletes who willingly give their time to take part in these projects.