World Blind Games is open

Today marks the opening of the 2023 International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA) World Games in Birmingham. West Midlands Sight Loss Councils (SLCs) have worked alongside partners at this event, as part of our work to make sport accessible for blind and partially sighted people.

The IBSA event, held from 18-27 August, will involve 1,250 blind and partially sighted athletes from 70 countries who will compete across 10 different sports. This will include qualifying events for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

Our work

SLCs, funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT), are regional groups led by blind and partially sighted volunteers. Several SLCs across England are prioritising increasing access to sport in their area. We also work nationally with TPT to increase accessibility in leisure and sports facilities. Just small changes can have a huge impact on participation levels.

West Midlands Sight Loss Councils and TPT supported the IBSA Games by providing vision awareness sessions to staff at the games. This includes sports centre staff, hospitality, catering and more.

Louise Connop, Senior Engagement Manager for Central England is with Martin Symcox, Head of sport and Leisure at TPT, and SLC members. They are on stage, presenting to university staff.

Louise Connop, Senior Engagement Manager for Central England, on stage presenting to University of Birmingham staff

We have also supported event organiser trials of the Waymap app for navigation at the games, and developed supplementary wayfinding videos.

View the videos

West Midlands Sight Loss Council members will also be at the event next week. They will raise awareness of Sight Loss Councils and their work.

Louise Connop, Senior Engagement Manager for West Midlands Sight Loss Councils, said:

“Everyone has the right to benefit from sports and leisure opportunities. Just small changes to leisure facilities and the way sessions are run can have such an impact on people being able to take part. This is why making sport accessible is so vital for us.

“We are proud to be supporting the IBSA Games and look forward to continuing the legacy by running our own multi-sports taster event next year. We also look forward to meeting all the participants and audience members next week. Do come and find us at our stand in the Teaching and Learning building which is hosting Showdown.”


A group photo of West Midlands SLC members, Louise Connop, Martin Symcox, and University of Birmingham staff. They are all stood together , looking at the camera.

University of Birmingham staff with West Midlands SLC members, Louise Connop, Senior Engagement Manager for Central England, and Martin Symcox, Head of Sport and Leisure for TPT

Sight Loss Councils in several regions across England are hosting multi-sports taster events for blind and partially sighted people. This includes an event in Greater Manchester, North Yorkshire and one in West Midlands next year.

We are also working with Thomas Pocklington Trust to launch a new report next week. The report is designed to help increase accessibility of leisure facilities. This research report was initiated following Sight Loss Councils across the UK raising with Thomas Pocklington Trust issues surrounding barriers for BPS people in using facilities that support exercise and good health.

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Publication date: 18 August 2023

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