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Sunday, August 19, 2012
Paralympics 2012: Channel 4 [Britain] trains reporters with disabilities
By Maggie Brown from the Guardian|The Observer
Channel 4 has invested £600,000 in training a fresh band of TV presenters and reporters with disabilities and Paralympic sporting experience to work alongside experienced anchors such as Clare Balding and Jonathan Edwards, when live coverage of the Games begins next week.
It is also unveiling a system of screen graphics, invented by Giles Long, one of the UK's most successful Paralympic swimmers, based on human figures to depict conditions such as dwarfism, amputations and brain damage. These will help viewers to understand, at a glance, why athletes who often appear so different compete against one other.
Called the Lexi Decoder system, it works on a traffic light principle. Diagrammatic figures showing missing limbs are coloured green, yellow, orange or red, depending on the level of disability – green for no impairment, red for severe.
Channel 4, which paid around £5m for the television rights to the London Paralympics, said research showed that many people were confused by the system of classification. It hopes that improved understanding will boost audiences for the lavish nine-day coverage, running from a breakfast show to late at night.
Giles Long, 36, from Wood Green, north London, who won 20 major medals as a butterfly swimmer, including a gold in Atlanta in 1996, invented the Lexi system and took it to Channel 4 – using a ballpoint pen and notepad to explain his idea – after it won the rights in January 2010 over the BBC.
Long said: "There is a gap in understanding. I realised in Beijing people thought the result of one swimming race was unfair because the Chinese athlete had no legs. The way to think about classifications is the weight bands in, say, boxing. You never see a flyweight and heavyweight boxing each other. Grouped together, Paralympic athletes face a common challenge."