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23 October 2012 | PR 12/178

University device helps open up Boccia for the visually impaired

Izzy Jeffs

George Torrens with the Boccia grid.

A new handheld grid enabling visually impaired people to participate in the sport of Boccia has been developed by Loughborough University designers.

Boccia is a Paralympic sport specifically designed for athletes with a severe degree of physical disability.  Men and women compete together in teams, pairs and individual events, attempting to throw leather balls as close as possible to a white target ball.

Until now the sport was not suitable for people with a visual impairment, but this is set to change thanks to a new device created by George Torrens from the Loughborough Design School.

George was approached by sports coaches Mark Beeby and Faye Kanchelski to help develop their concept Tactile Boccia – a spin off from traditional Boccia that would enable the visually impaired to participate in the sport.

With funding from Sport England and Boccia England, the team have developed a handheld grid referencing system that enables players to feel where their ball is in relation to the target and to their competitors, on the court.  Support staff place a series of different shaped reference pegs into the grid, moving them accordingly as the game progresses.

Speaking about the grid George said: “Working on this project has been fantastic.  The grid will open up the sport of Boccia to visually impaired people everywhere, thanks to the commitment and drive of Mark and Faye to make it all happen.”

Mark added: “We worked with a number of organisations when developing the grid to ensure it would work, including the RNIB, and we are incredibly pleased with the results.”

The Tactile Boccia grid was unveiled at an event at the University on Saturday (20 October) which was attended by the Mayor of Charnwood Councillor Diane Wise, representatives of CP Sport, Boccia England, Action for Blind People as well as sighted and visually impaired Boccia players including some from the Special Olympics.


For all media enquiries contact:

Judy Wing
Senior PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697
E: J.L.Wing@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the Best Student Experience in England every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday October 23, 2012 9:25