Discrimination against B4 athletes within International Blind Sport

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Discrimination against athletes with a sight classification of B4 in all International Blind Sports.

We are writing to highlight the lack of sporting opportunities available for athletes with a sight classification of B4, to play at a top international level.     Within the current regulations, any athlete with a sight classification of B4 is unable to represent their country in any sport at the International level.

Currently, those wanting to compete in any blind sport at competitive International level have to go through a classification process. An athlete’s visual field and acuity is tested. Depending on severity, athletes will be classified as either B1, B2, B3 or B4. In LogMAR measurements: B1 includes those with an acuity poorer than 2.6; B2 is those with an acuity of 2.6 up to and including 1.5, or a visual field of 10 degrees or less; whilst B3 includes those with a level of vision better than 1.5 up to and including 1.0, or those with a visual field of less than 40 degrees but more than 10 degrees. B3 is the highest classification used for competitive International sports. Please note whilst B1, B2 and B3 are recognised and agreed internationally, this letter references B4 in accordance with the UK sight classification. For further details or Snellen equivalents please visit:  https://britishblindsport.org.uk/measuring-sight/  

Athletes who are classified as B4 can have vision of LogMAR 1.0 up to and including 0.6; the equivalent of seeing the top two (potentially three) lines on a standard Snellen eye chart. With such limited eyesight, these athletes are unable to compete competitively in mainstreams sports. Their eyesight is deemed poor enough to be eligible for (UK) government disability benefits and payments; and yet with a classification of B4, these athletes are ineligible to play in specifically designed or adjusted visually impaired sports at an International level. A frustration further compounded by the fact that visually impaired athletes have varying levels of functional vision, and the difference from B3 to B4 is, minimal in some conditions, and could easily be affected by external factors, such as tiredness, light and interpretation of visual cues. 

The current classification system discriminates against B4 classified athletes. They are being excluded from International sporting opportunities because the classification system deems them “not disabled” enough, yet by almost every other standard across the globe, these athletes are considered disabled. Due to their visual disability, these athletes are unable to participate in mainstream sport. 

In response to this petition and accompanying open letter, we request that IBSA and the IPC acknowledge this discrimination and outline their plans on resolving the discrimination issues within the current system; and therefore reconsidering the eligibility of B4 athletes and their involvement in International blind sport.