Sport for people with a disability is often divided into different groups so that athletes compete against people with similar disabilities.
Athletes competing in disability sport need to be assessed in order to be classified. Athletes are then grouped together with athletes of a similar disability in their chosen sport. This is done to make sure that everyone is competing fairly and against other athletes with a similar disability.
In the UK, different competitions require different levels of classification for athletes competing with a learning disability:
- Most local, regional and national championships - no classification required.
- DSE Junior Swimming Championships, DSE Short Course Swimming Championships and some UK School Games events - UK (national) classification required.
- ASA events, DSE Long Course Swimming, some UKA Athletics events, some UK School Games events and all international INAS competitions - International (INAS) classification required.
You should check competition entry forms for specific information.
Classification in the UK is managed by the UK Sports Association. It can be a difficult and lengthy process and may be expensive. Before applying, you should consider carefully whether a classification is needed, and which level to apply for.
Seek advice from your home country association and the National Governing Body of sport before applying for a classification.
The Eligibility Criteria
To compete as an athlete with a learning disability, the athlete must meet the eligibility criteria as defined by INAS (based on the World Health Organisation and American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disability) which says:
- The person must have an IQ of 75 or below
- The person must have limited ‘Adaptive Behaviour’. This means they might need help with everyday tasks, for example cooking or travelling by public transport
- The learning disability must have occurred before the age of 18
UK (national) and INAS (International) classification forms can be found on the UK Sports Association website.
Athletes applying for classification must submit evidence in support of the eligibility criteria. This often means undertaking an IQ test and sometimes a test of Adaptive Behaviour. These tests must be undertaken with a psychologist.
Information for psychologists
The UK Sports Association have published a guide to assessment for national and international classification.