Development of a classification model in disability sport
The principal aim of this study was to develop a classification model in disability sports. Using disability swimming as an example, methods of participant observation, interview, survey and document analysis were undertaken in three empirical studies to develop and clarify the classification model and three elements in swimming classification- (a) the classification process, (b) classifiers and (c) the classification system. First, the swimming classification process was identified as a social process. Members in the classification process socially interacted. The detailed classification process was described, interpreted and discussed. Several features in the classification process were identified. They included interaction among social actors, routinization, rules in the process, resources used by classifiers, power relations among social actors, allocation of rewards and sanctions in the classification process, and conflicts among social actors. Second, the role of classifiers as an agent of social control in disability swimming was examined. Resources used by medical and technical classifiers in the classification process to maintain their role and social order, and the socialization of classifiers in swimming were specifically explored. In addition, the important characteristics of swimming classifiers were identified in the study. Third, classification outcomes in disability swimming were monitored to evaluate the effectiveness of the classification system. Performance and impairment approaches were used in the study. Data of performances and types of impairment of Paralympic swimmers were analysed. The results revealed that the swimming classification system was generally fair but some classes needed to be fine-tuned. In this study elements of the classification model were clarified by integration of the results of the three empirical studies and the classification literature. It is suggested that researchers may use the concepts of the classification model for further investigationin disability sportc lassificationa nd disability sport committees may apply the model to systematicallye valuatet heir own classification systems, processes and classifiers.