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How TV coverage of Paralympians is contributing to a more inclusive society? Paralympic athletes have the ability to change the world. Their amazing performances and incredible stories teach the values of acceptance and appreciation for people with an impairment. They can change how people think about think about themselves and how they think about others contributing towards a more inclusive and equitable society. Such transformation is only possible however if people are able to see the athletes’ performances. This has not always been the case. The first Paralympic Games took place in Rome, Italy in 1960, however it was not until the 1992 Barcelona Games that they started to receive widespread TV coverage. Since 1992, and coinciding with increasing amounts of TV coverage, the Paralympics have developed an excellent track record for changing attitudes and perceptions of people with an impairment. The recent London 2012 Games attracted a record 2.72 million spectators all of whom were inspired by what they saw in the venues. However, far more people were left inspired and touched by what they saw on television. London 2012 was broadcast to over 115 different countries and territories reaching a cumulated TV audience of 3.8 billion people. They enjoyed what they saw. The Paralympics Games are unique in that they can put spectators and TV viewers through every single emotion, including ones we never thought we had. Post Games research conducted in Great Britain has revealed that 81% of people believe London 2012 had a positive impact on the way they view a person with an impairment. A further 65% said the Games were a breakthrough to viewing people with an impairment – up from 40% in June 2010. Not all the people surveyed were lucky enough to get a ticket to see the London Games. Most will have watched on TV. Thanks to TV coverage of Paralympic Games and other major international events, the Paralympic Movement is helping to build a bridge which links sport with social awareness. Long may it continue!

(For egta, ACT, EBU)