Visually Impaired Sports in the 2020 Summer Paralympics

August 24 through September 5 is the 2020 Summer Paralympics! These are major international parasport events governed by the International Paralympic Committee.

Below are just a few sports that highlight the talents of those blind or visually impaired. Don’t forget to catch the Paralympics and cheer on your favorite athletes. And, if you or someone you know wants more information on accessible sports, contact us!

To watch videos on demand from Paralympic Games and to subscribe to ParalympicSport.TV, go to


According to, Goalball is played exclusively by athletes who are blind or visually impaired. The game was invented in 1946 to help rehabilitate veterans who had lost their sight during World War II.

The game’s object is to throw a ball using a bowling motion past the opponents and into their net to score points. Scoring is achieved by bouncing, curving, and spinning the shots around the opponents. Players stay on their hands and knees to defend their net and score against their opponents.

Teams have six players, with three members playing at any one time. The three positions are center, right-wing, and left-wing.

All international athletes must be legally blind, meaning they have less than 10 percent vision. Players must also wear opaque eyeshades at all times, ensuring fair competition.

Learn more about Goalball here:


Swimmers are grouped by the degree of activity limitation resulting from an impairment in World Para Swimming. The classification process determines which athletes are eligible to compete in World Para Swimming and how athletes are grouped for competition.
According to the United States Association of Blind Athletes, Swimming is an easily adaptable sport for athletes who are blind and visually impaired.

Depending on visual acuity, there are either zero, one, or two adaptations necessary to compete in Swimming.
If you’re a B3 athlete, there are no adaptations.
If you’re a B2, you may need a ‘tapper’ – someone to tap you on the shoulder with a tennis ball attached to a mobility cane when it’s time to make your flip turn.
If you’re a B1, you need a tapper and blacked-out goggles.

Learn more about Swimming here:


Offering intense skill and drama, Football 5-a-side is played by athletes with a vision impairment using a ball with a noise-making device inside.

Each team consists of four outfield players and one goalkeeper who can be fully sighted or partially sighted. To keep players safe, they must say ‘Voy’ or a similar word when moving towards an opponent, tackling, or searching for the ball.

Football 5-a-side, like its 11-a-side counterpart, is a fast and physically demanding game. According to, players need speed, strength and stamina, and excellent spatial awareness despite their lack of vision, allowing them to be effective on the pitch and play together as a team.

Learn more about the rules of Football 5-a-side and watch a quick tutorial here:

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