Being diagnosed as blind or partially sighted does not mean that you have to give up on your favourite sports, or sports altogether. In fact there are many sports which have been adapted for those who are blind or partially sighted, as well as entirely new sports only open to people with a sight condition. With that in mind we have put together a short list of 10 potential sports available to the blind and partially sighted, as well as all the details of how and where to get involved:
1. Football: Football is still fully accessible and there are many sports clubs and schools all over the country who field competitive teams. Brought to the fore quite recently by the London 2012 Paralympic Games. It can be played either indoors or outdoors, using an audible ball and standard five-a-side goals. British Blind Sport (BBS) organises national competitions for both partially sighted and totally blind teams.
British Blind Sport (BBS)
Contact: George Ferguson
T: 01926 424247
2. Golf: Golfing for the blind and partially sighted has been one of the more popular sports over recent years. Sight and Sound even sponsored the Blind Golf Championships in 2010. The same equipment is used and the rules are almost entirely the same. All blind golfers are assisted by a sighted guide who ensures the club head is correctly positioned behind the ball, provides a description of the hole and the distance to hit the shot. The handicapping system for blind golfers also allows for full competition between blind and sighted golfers. There are 3 separate organisations who organise golf for the blind and partially sighted:
The England and Wales Blind Golf Association
t: 02476 414166
Scottish Blind Golf Society
5 The Round, Dunfermline, Fife, KY12 7YH
Contact: Robin Clayden
t: 01383 737 717
Northern Ireland Blind Golf Association
Michael Gardner (NIBG Secretary)
t: 028 9065 8593
3. Tandem Cycling: Tandem cycling has also been rapidly increasing in popularity following the home nation’s success in the Commonwealth Games this year and can be pursued recreationally or as a competitive sport. There are a number of clubs and organisations in the UK for blind and partially sighted people. The best port of call is the Tandem Club who would be able to introduce you to contacts at a local level:
The Tandem Club
Contact: Peter Hallowell (Disabilities Liaison Officer))
4. Table Tennis: Table Tennis has been described as one of the easier sports to adapt to following a loss in sight. For many partially sighted people, table tennis can be played without any need for specialist equipment or modification to the rules. To find out more:
British Table Tennis Association for the Disabled
Contact through the website at www.bttad.org
5. Swimming: Many swimming pools welcome swimmers with sight loss during public sessions, and will also provide special sessions for organised groups. As swimming for the blind and partially sighted becomes more and more popular there are an increasing number of regional, national and international competitions held every year. British Blind Sport (BBS) hold a swimming gala annually In Worcester for people of all ages. The Amatuer Swimming Association is the best port of call for those looking to get involved for the first time:
Amateur Swimming Association
Sport Park, 3 Oakwood Drive, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3QF
t: 01509 618 700
6. Polybat: This is a sport designed specifically for totally blind people and is quite similar to Table Tennis. Polybat uses a rectangular table with raised edges and a wooden bridge stretching across the centre, from side to side, with enough room for the ball (small, with plastic beads inside) to pass underneath. Bats are square pieces of wood with a handle extension and the ball is struck from end to end, each player trying to defend their own sunken goal and score points by dropping their ball into the opponent’s.
Overall it can be a fast and exciting game, played as singled or doubles, for fun or competitively. For more information get in contact with:
English Table Tennis Association
Norfolk House, 88 Saxon Gate West, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK9 2DL
t: 01908 208860
7. Rowing: Rowing is a fantastic sport which can be enjoyed by the sighted, partially sighted, and blind alike – without any need for any specialist rules or equipment. There needs to be only one sighted person in the team and that is the cox. Rowing is one of the few sports in which people with sight loss can compete with sighted people on equal terms.
6 Lower Mall, Hammersmith, London, W6 9DJ
t: 020 8237 6700
8. Goalball: Goalball is another game designed specifically with the blind and partially sighted in mind and over recent years has been growing hugely in popularity with both men’s and women’s annual national competitions and involvement at international and Paralympic level.
The game is played indoors on a rectangular “pitch” that has dimensions corresponding to a volleyball court. The goal posts are positioned on each team's base line; a heavy audible ball is used. Each team has three players who alternately throw the ball along the floor with the aim of getting it across the opponents' goal line. The defending team tries to prevent this by diving across and behind the ball. In competitions, all players must wear eyeshades that are impervious to light.
t: 0114 223 5670
9. Archery: This is another sport which has been successfully adapted for the blind and partially sighted audience. The equipment required is the same for fully sighted archers but there are a number of extra aids available if necessary. These vary but those commonly used are a block and board for positioning the feet and a vertical stand which grips an adjustable horizontal point of flexible material, for example, paint brush bristles for guiding the position of the hand of the forward aiming arm. Electronic aiming aids have also been developed but are yet to be adopted extensively.
British Blind Sport Archery
Contact: Peter Price (Secretary)
Lilleshall National Sports Centre, Newport, Shropshire, TF10 9AT
t: 01952 677888
10.Mountaineering: Rock climbing and mountaineering are very physically demanded sports and are quite the step up from rambling, however there are some less challenging routes in the UK. A number of blind and partially sighted people take part in this sport with the help of sighted instructors and leaders. The Milton Mountaineers is a charity that specifically caters for visually impaired people from all over the UK and organises a yearly mountaineering expedition.
Contact: David Carrington-Porter
5 Shelwick Grove, Dorridge, Solihull, B93 8UH
t: 01564 779 233
Mobile: 07814 844 227
There are of course a vast range of sports for the blind and partially sighted other than the 10 listed above, everything from Cricket to Water Skiing. In order to find out more the best port of call is British Blind Sport, please find their details below:
British Blind Sport (BBS)
Contact: George Ferguson
T: 01926 424247