Channel 4 has invested £600,000 in a programme to train a new batch of reporters with disabilities to work on its coverage of the Paralympic Games.

The sporting showpiece event kicked off with a spectacular opening ceremony on Wednesday night (29th August) which featured appearances from Sir Ian
McKellen and Professor Stephen Hawking.

The four-hour show was shown live on Channel 4 and the broadcaster will be showing all of the sporting action throughout the Games after agreeing a £5 million deal to secure the television rights.

In an interview with the Observer, Channel 4’s disability manager Alison Walsh revealed that the broadcaster is aiming for a 50:50 split between disabled and able-bodied on-screen presenters as it looks to promote equality and diversity in the workplace.

The company has brought in a host of experienced anchors such as Clare Balding and Jonathan Edwards to work alongside the novice presenters as the channel looks to learn from the mistakes it made during the World Athletics Championships last year when its inexperienced team crumbled under pressure.

Rachel Latham, a former Paralympic athlete who had to retire from swimming after suffering an injury in the 2008 Games in Beijing, is one of the amateur reporters who has been given a role by Channel 4.

She claims that her disability – her left arm and shoulder were injured at birth – make her the perfect candidate for the position.

“Athletes are comfortable with me. It is natural to talk about classification, I can explain it with ease. There can be a problem with having too much information, but that’s where the training came in,” Ms Latham told the news provider.

Meanwhile, Georgie Bingham, an experienced sports presenter who will anchor Channel 4’s daily afternoon show alongside disabled former marine Arthur Williams, praised the decision to bring in disabled presenters.

She said: “It makes huge sense to me. It’s a brilliant thing. He will be bringing in his wheelchair to explain how it works in the wheelchair races. It is not without a bit of risk, but Arthur is young, enormously bright.”

In order to help viewers understand the conditions of competing athletes, Paralympic swimmer Giles Long has developed a traffic light system to show the severity of disabilities on screen.

The Lexi Decoder system will highlight the limbs of athletes in either green, yellow, orange or red, depending on the level of disability, with green signaling no impairment and red depicting a severe disability.