Visually Impaired is the fifth (alphabetically) of the six major disability categories at the Paralympic Games.

The disability includes athletes who have any condition which interferes with 'normal' vision.  This incorporates the entire range of vision difficulties from correctable conditions through to total blindness.

In the Paralympics, Visually Impaired is abbreviated to VI.

The Paralympic sports participated in by Visually impaired athletes are:


Athletics is open to all disability groups and uses a functional classification system.

A brief classification guide is as follows: (prefixing F for field athletes or T for track athletes)

F or T 11-13 are Visually Impaired

F or T 20 are Learning Difficulty

F or T 31-38 are Cerebral Palsy

F or T 41- 46 Amputee and Les Autres

T 51- 54 Wheelchair track athletes

F51- 58 Wheelchair field athletes


Cycling is open to Amputee, Les Autres, Cerebral Palsy and Visually Impaired athletes who compete in individual road race and track events.

Classification is split into divisions 2, 3 and 4 for athletes with Cerebral Palsy, athletes in division two being the most severely handicapped progressing to division 4 which includes physically more able athletes.

Visually Impaired athletes compete together with no separate classification system. They ride in tandem with a sighted guide.

Amputee, Spinal Cord Injury and Les Autres competitors compete within the classification groupings:

LC1 - essentially for riders with upper limb disabilities

LC2 - essentially for riders with disabilities in one leg but who are able to pedal normally

LC3 - essentially for riders with a handicap in one lower limb who will usually pedal with one leg only

LC4 - for riders with disabilities affecting both legs.


Equestrian is open to all disability groups, with riders divided into four grades.

Grade 1 incorporates severely disabled riders with Cerebral Palsy, Les Autres and Spinal Cord Injury

Grade 2 incorporates Cerebral Palsy, Les Autres, Spinal Cord injury and Amputee riders with reasonable balance and abdominal control.

Grade 3 incorporates Cerebral Palsy, Les Autres, Amputee, Spinal Cord Injury and totally Blind athletes with good balance, leg movement and co-ordination.

Grade 4 incorporates Cerebral Palsy, Les Autres, Amputee, Spinal Cord injury and Visually Impaired. This last group comprises ambulant athletes with either impaired vision or impaired arm/leg function.


Goalball is open to visually impaired athletes who must wear "black out" masks to ensure all participants can compete equally, therefore eliminating the need for classification.


Judo is open to visually impaired athletes.  There is no classification as such, participants being divided into weight categories in the same way as able-bodied judo athletes.


Powerlifting is open to athletes with a physical disability.

Classification is by weight category as in able bodied powerlifting competition.


Sailing is open to Amputee, Cerebral Palsy, Visually Impaired, Wheelchair and Les Autres athletes.

Classification for the Sonar is based on a functional points system with a minimum of 1 point for severely disabled athletes rising by scale to a high of 7 points for less disabled athletes. Each crew of three is allowed a maximum of 14 points between them.

The two-person Skud includes one severely disabled sailor, and one person with minimal disability. At least one of the crew must be female.

The singled handed 2.4m can be crewed regardless of points but the sailor must have at least a minimum level of disability. The characteristics of the boat allow the sailors to compete on equal terms with able bodied sailors.


Classification is divided into three groups:

S1 to S10 are those with Physical Impairment. S1 will have the most severe impairment and an S10 a lesser impairment, for example a hand amputation.

S11 to S13 are those with a Visual Impairment. S11 will have little or no vision, S12 can recognise the shape of a hand and have some ability to see, S13 greater vision than the other two classes but less than 20 degrees of vision.

S14 is for athletes with a Learning Difficulty.