The Abilympics Movement

The Abilympics movement was founded in the 70's in Japan. It covers a wide spectrum of workskill activities intensively supporting the employment of people with disabilities. The international body of this movement is the International Abilympic Federation (IAF) overseeing in Japan.

In 1972, the Japan Association for Employment of the Disabled, under the Ministry of Labour, held the Olympics of Abilities. The aim was to improve the vocational abilities of persons with disabilities, and to help them reach their highest potential.

In 1981, almost a decade later, the First International Abilympics was held in Tokyo - Japan, to commemorate the United Nations International Year of Disabled Persons. The success of this event was instrumental in the continuation of the International Abilympics, which are now held every four years.

The second International Abilympics were held in Bogota - Colombia in 1985. Here, a proposal was made by the former President of Rehabilitation International, the late Sir Harry Fang, to establish an International Abilympic Federation (IAF) to enable the holding of International Abilympics on a continuing basis.

The many activities of the IAF are the International Abilympics, a regular organization of world workskill events for people with disabilities. Special discussion and lectures aimed at various aspects of the lives of people with disabilities are organized during the IA. A rich programme of social and cultural events is an integral part of the competition.

Under the dynamic leadership of Sir Harry Fang, a new category of events - leisure and living skills - was introduced in the Third International Abilympics held in Hong Kong in 1991. Since then, International Abilympics have been held in Perth - Australia (1995), Prague - The Czech Republic (2000), New Delhi - India (2003), Shizuoka - Japan (2007) & Seoul - South Korea (2011). Bordeaux, France has successfully placed a bid to host the 9th IA in March 2016.



Participation in Abilympics competitions is open to all people with disabilities, however families, carers and advocates play an equally important role in the support services and their involvement/membership is valued.

The follow text outlines the categories that were examined in the 2007 International Abilympics and a summary of the rules.


  1. Computer Programming
    Writing a program to operate a commercially produced general-purpose robot arm. Request operation will include making a robot write specified graphics and drawings. Software to be used is Visual C++ or Visual Basic.
  2. Creating Web Pages
    Creating a web page for a shop where virtual shopping is available.
  3. Data Processing
    1. Advanced Course
      Making tables, inserting data, picking out, rewriting and deleting specified data, designing a display screen and inputting data, printing reports, analyzing data, making selection menu screens, etc. The software to be used will be Microsoft Access and Excel.
    2. Basic Course:
      Inputting a series of data, e.g. figures on sales slips, a list of addresses, etc. by using Microsoft Excel. Necessary screen reader software will be prepared upon request.
  4. CAD-Architecture
    Using the CAD system to draw a ground plan from an architecture sketch.
  5. CAD-Machinery
    Picking out specified parts from machinery drawings in third angle projection, and redrawing the parts using the CAD system.
  6. Dental Techniques
    Fabricating artificial teeth according to given instructions.
  7. Electronic Assembly and Testing
    Assembling an electronic equipment from a given diagram using provided parts, and testing the functions of a completed equipment.
  8. Electronic Circuit Connection Technique
    Using provided parts to connect electronic circuits according to the given specifications. Skills to be tested include soldering, clamping connections, etc.
  9. English Desktop Publishing
    Making a colour document to be printed out according to given instructions by using standard DTP practice.
  10. English Text Processing
    Typing a document according to a given sample. Software to be used is Windows MS-Word. Skills to be tested include: how to choose font, alignment, how to use WordArt, header/footer, how to insert format images/tables, etc.
  11. Floral Arrangement
    Creating an arrangement for given purpose. Contestants will be able to choose flowers, plants and/or accessories.
  12. Mechanical Assembly
    Using supplied components to assemble a bicycle according to given instructions and/or drawings and making adjustments.
  13. PC Assembly
    Assembling a personal desktop computer according to specifications using provided components to make it run on the installed Windows XP.
  14. Photography
    Using provided films, to take photos of people, nature, buildings, etc. on a given theme.
  15. Poster Design
    Designing a poster in color on a given theme.
  16. Precision Sheet Metal Work
    Fabricating 2 parts using steel sheets (SPCC: mild steel sheet, 1.2mm thick) and assembling them according to a provided drawing and specifications.
  17. Tailoring
    Using provided materials to fabricate a man's outfit with lining, according to given instructions.
  18. Wood Carving
    Making a wood carving according to a given design from a provided flat wooden plate.
  19. Furniture Making
    1. Advanced Course
      Fabricating wooden parts according to a given drawing and specifications, and assembling them into a piece of furniture as shown in the drawing.
    2. Basic Course
      Fabricating a basic wooden box according to a given drawing and specifications, using provided materials.
  20. Dress Making
    1. Advanced Course
      Fabricating a woman's dress with necessary lining, adding his/her design to the sample.
    2. Basic Course:
      Fabricating a woman's dress in cotton without lining, according to a given design.
  21. Jewelry Making
    Using provided material (sterling silver) to fabricate a hand-made piece of jewelry according to a sample of a drawing.
  22. Artificial Limb Making
    Producing a socket for the artificial lower limb according to given specifications.
  23. Basket Making
    Fabricating a basket in a stipulated size and shape, using hard-weave materials such as cane and bamboo.


  1. Embroidery Hand-embroidering patterns to a given theme on a piece of cloth using various styles of embroidery stitch.
  2. Hand-knitting Hand-knitting a woollen article in accordance with given specifications.
  3. Painting (Watercolour) Painting a watercolour picture(s) on a given theme.
  4. Pottery Designing and fabricating a hand-made ceramic ware for daily use.

<Note> For the Leisure and Living Contests, participation by a team of 2 contestants with different or the same disabilities is welcomed.


Aim: To encourage creativity and cultural exchange.

Group Size: Unlimited

Ratio (disabled to non-disabled) 2:1


Each participating group is free to choose any discipline of performing arts for its performance, such as dance, music, drama, mime, mask, puppetry or black light theatre.

The use of audio-visual aids such as slides and videos is allowed.

Each performance should be no more than 10 minutes.


  1. A limit is set on the maximum number of contestants for each of the 32 categories.
  2. The maximum number of contestants in each contest is nominally set at two per country. If demand is high, the Organizing Committee reserves the right to vary this maximum, in which case ample prior notice is given.
  3. If there is sufficient international interest other contest activities may be considered.
  4. Each country is responsible for its choice of contestants.
  5. The judging panel for each contest will consist of a panel of at least 3 experts.
  6. The assessment criteria is based solely on the finished product measured against commercial standards. No consideration will be made towards the degree of disability of the contestants, however, special awards will be made relating to the level of disability and efforts made.
  7. Standard tools will be supplied if required. The use of approved aids will be accepted by contestants as long as the aids are intended to assist the contestants to carry out the task in a normal way and are not of a highly sophisticated or specialized type to give an unfair advantage to the contestants. It is, therefore, a requirement for all contestants to inform the Organizing Committee of the type of aids they will be using, if any, apart from the normal set of tools required and designated in order to carry out the task.