Participants with any level of Vision Impairment are welcome to play – teams are formed by combining participants of varied sight ability. Guides and coaches help participants on the ice to enjoy the game safely. Vision impaired participants may curl using a traditional curling delivery or using a delivery aid/stick. Curlers may participate in recreational or more competitive Vision Impaired Curling leagues, programs or bonspiels. Curling is always followed up with some social time to develop friendships.
Vision impaired curlers follow Curling Canada’s Rules of Curling For General Play. In addition to Curling Canada’s Rules of Curling For General Play there are specific rules for vision impaired competitive events. These rules are documented in Rules of Curling for Officiated Play.
In a competition curling event, a curling team has a maximum of four players who are totally or legally blind (visually impaired). As teams have one member who is totally blind, the team is allowed to have a 5th player who is the team’s designated sweeper. In addition to the players, each team has a sighted guide who assists the team on the ice.
The guide will do the following:
- Describe the requested shot to the players at the throwing end of the sheet
- Advise the player of the weight and turn of the shot
- Describe the desired outcome of the shot.
- Assist the player to line up the shot from the hack and to be on the line of delivery towards the broom which is being held by the skip at the opposite end of the ice.
- Tell the player the outcome of the shot.
Each team may also have a coach. Similar to most sports, the coach educates and instructs players in the mechanical techniques of the game and game strategies.*
Curling requires some equipment, but is not necessary to get started, as many clubs have this equipment available to borrow. Some of the most important pieces of equipment include the following.
- Warm clothing including stretchy pants
- Balance Device (ex. Stabilizer) to help with delivery
- Cue (This is used in stick curling) – Stick curling is when a player is unable to deliver regularly.
Aids such as flashlights and lighted brooms can be used by the guide to assist players to line themselves up to the skip’s broom. Players are also allowed to use devices such as monoculars or binoculars during the game. Laser pointers are not permitted.
To watch how an end of Visually Impaired Curling is played, view the video below:
Where Can you Play?
Vision impaired Curling program exist in several places with recreational and competitive curlers, experienced coaches and guides. Feel free to contact any of the contact people to get involved as a curler, guide or volunteer.
Ontario Blind Curler’s Association – Bill Watson, President – (613)302-0390
Ontario Provincial Championship is governed by the Ontario Blind Curler’s Association. It has a competitive and recreational division – winner of the competitive division goes to represent Ontario at the Canadian Championships held the following year in Ottawa during White Cane Week.
The ParaSport Winter Games is governed by the Ontario Curling Council. It is an invitational event with the top four teams from the Ontario Provincial Championships Competitive Section being invited to attend. The ParaSport Winter Games is hosted by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport every two years.
*Thanks to the Toronto Blind Curling Club for the website content