Classification systems provide the means to group together athletes with a similar level of impairment in relation to a particular sport. The objective of classification is to ensure that the result of sport competition is determined by sport skill, rather than differences in the level of impairment or disability. In a team sport, such as volleyball, teams are composed of a group of athletes with a set combination of classifications, thereby ensuring that a teams overall impairment or disability level is similar. This creates a level playing field between teams as well as allowing a mix of players with varying degrees of ability to play at the one time. Classification as it applies to each discipline is as follows:
Three levels of classification exist within standing volleyball. They range from A - C.
Class A: This includes an athlete with a minimum disability level as is relative to skills and functions required to play volleyball. Examples of players in the 'A' class include through hand or foot amputees, neurological or other physical injury resulting in a minor level of muscular weakness, or restricted range of motion. Strict minimal disability criteria apply.
Class B: This group has more impairment of physical function than "A" class athletes. Examples of players in the 'B' class include below elbow or below knee amputees, moderate level of neurological damage resulting in moderate level of muscle weakness. Here a point system applies to the classification process.
Class C:This group of athletes has the greatest amount of physical impairment. Examples of players in the 'C' class include above elbow or above knee amputees, neurological damage resulting in severe muscle weakness. Here a point system applies to classification.
A standing volleyball team may have a maximum of 1 "A" player on court, must always have at least one "C" player on court and the remainder of the players on court may be "B" or "C" players.
There are 2 classes for sitting volleyball. These are:
MD (minimal disability): these athletes either have a similar level of impairment as the "A" standing volleyball players, or they meet the minimal disability special condition applicable specially to sitting volleyball. These conditions include severe ligamentous instability of the knee or shoulder adn several others.
D (disabled): these athletes have impairments that are equivalent to the "B" and "C" players described for standing volleyball.
A sitting volleyball team may have a maximum of one (1) "MD" player on court at any time, and the remainder of the team must be made up of "D" players.
In Australia, a person may compete in Deaf Sports if they are identified as Deaf in any way.
'Deaf Sports Australia has a 'inclusive' policy, for example, persons with any degree of hearing loss are eligible for membership. It might be noted that for international events sanctioned under the Comité International des Sports des Sourds (CISS),including the Deaflympic Games, deaf athletes need to meet the CISS hearing criteria. This ruling requires a hearing loss of at least 55db in the better ear (three tone frequency average of 500, 1000 and 2000 hertz)”. Classification procedures and criteria are described on the CISS web site at http://www.ciss.org. Click on "about," then "regulations," then scroll down to Article 1.3 on eligibility.
Please note that these are basic examples only. Actual classification processes and guidelines are highly complex and are not easily summarized.
For further information please follow the link to the Australian Paralympic Committee site http://www.paralympic.com.au/Sport/Classification/ClassificationInformation/tabid/366/Default.aspx