C4 unveils graphics to aid understanding of Paralympic classification


Channel 4 today launched its coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games by unveiling a revolutionary new graphical classification system it hopes will aid the viewing experience of this summer's Paralympic Games.

‘Lexi Decoder' (LEXI) will attempt to explain classification in Paralympic sport, with the aim of enabling viewers to better understand what they are watching. LEXI is made up of colour coded graphics that illustrate disability types within sporting classes.

The existing classification system forms the structure for all Paralympic competition. It separates athletes with similar levels of impairments into groups or classes, so they can compete in fair and equal competitions against one another.

However, research carried out by YouGov on behalf of Channel 4 showed that a third of adults in the UK feel confused by the disability classifications in Paralympic sports. The poll also revealed people would be more interested in watching the Paralympics if they had a better understanding of why athletes with different disabilities compete against each other.

The LEXI concept was originally created by Paralympic gold medal winning athlete, Giles Long. Channel 4 has worked closely with him, as well as in consultation with the International Paralympic Committee, to develop a system that will be used across several sports during the Games this summer.

LEXI is made up of graphics which broadly illustrate disability types within sporting classes, with the type and level of impairment illustrated through the use of a colour palette - green denotes no impairment through to red denoting a severe impairment.

David Abraham, Chief Executive of Channel 4 said: "When Channel 4 won the rights to broadcast the London 2012 Paralympic Games we committed to opening the sport up to as wide an audience as possible and to making a difference to the perception of disability sport in the UK. I believe the innovation we are introducing to our coverage will do just that.

"Channel 4 is pioneering the Lexi Decoder system which will help audiences navigate through the Paralympic classification system and our ground-breaking presenting team, which combines new disabled talent with some of the most experienced voices in sports broadcasting, will be on air from first thing in the morning to last thing at night giving audiences the opportunity to catch more Paralympic sport than ever before. Add to this three live streams providing uninterrupted coverage and the launch of dedicated Paralympics apps for both mobile and tablet services, and the UK audience will be better served to enjoy the Paralympic games than ever before."

Seb Coe, Chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games said: "Channel 4's LEXI will provide spectators with a clear explanation of the different classifications for Paralympic sports. This will not only help spectators further appreciate the performance of athletes but will also help leave a greater understanding of disability sport."

Giles Long, co-creator of LEXI, said: "I first started thinking of a graphics system to explain classification in Paralympic sports after the Sydney 2000 Games. People wanted to understand but couldn't in the time available and that was having an impact on their enjoyment of the sport.

"If you're trying to explain something that's very complex quickly, then you probably need a picture. Using figures on screen seemed the logical way to do it."

Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of the British Paralympic Association, lent his backing to the LEXI project, saying: "Channel 4's LEXI project is a great new addition to their current plans for broadcasting the Games and I thoroughly support it. Classification is an important part of Paralympic sport because it means that competition can be fair and equal, but we also recognise that classification can be confusing for people new to the sport. By making classification easier to understand, I believe that LEXI will help more of the British public get behind the Paralympic Games and the British team."

Channel 4 has long-standing heritage in ground-breaking and innovative ideas, dating back to the introduction of Hawk-Eye and Snickometer technology in cricket.

Lexi will be used across live coverage of eight sports this summer as an analytical tool before races or games, as well as immediately after events during the analysis. It will also be used as a VT package, for example to introduce the concept and provide viewers with that additional layer of insight that they need to fully understand and enjoy Paralympic sport.

Notes to Editors:

Channel 4 talent search for disabled presenters
As part of Channel 4's pledge to bring disability sport to a mainstream audience and add authenticity to the coverage, the broadcaster launched a nationwide talent search in September 2010, to identify the best new disabled sports reporters and commentators to front the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The channel committed £500,000 to the search in order to reach its target of 50% disabled onscreen talent during the Games. Hopefuls from around the country were able to apply to the talent search by answering the question: "If you had three minutes of Channel 4 air time, what would you fill it with?" Entries were submitted as YouTube videos.

Channel 4 Broadcast Partners
BT is the official communications services partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. BT has a history of support of disability sport within the UK spanning over twenty years when it became the first commercial partner of the British Paralympic Association (BPA) in 1989. Channel 4, in partnership with BT, recently launched a series of short films featuring a number of BT's ambassador athletes which focused on their mental and physical approach to competing and training.

Sainsbury's is the official supermarket partner of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the first ever Paralympic Games-only sponsor. The brand recently announced international footballer David Beckham as their official Paralympic ambassador to encourage children to take part in several of Sainsbury's initiatives, including the Million Kids Challenge and Active Kids 2012. Sainsbury's have also worked with Channel 4 to produce two series of short films with their ambassador athletes, including Ellie Simmonds.


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