On the Paralympics

Friday, September 07, 2012

Joseph Shapiro, NPR Correspondent and author of the book No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement talks about some of the American stories out of the 2012 Paralympic Games.


Joseph Shapiro

Comments [4]

Channel 4 in the UK had 11.2 million viewers for the opening ceremonies of the Paralympics, about 4 times the viewers than they had for the Beiging Paralympics in 2008. People want to see sport at a high level and compelling stories and they have that in spades in the Paralympics. NBC needs to understand this emerging market. These are elite level athletes. And though they might not win against "able-bodied" athletes, Sugar Ray Leonard couldn't beat a heavyweight either.

The quality of Paralympic competition is so high that NBC has a market waiting for them--if they take the time to understand it and market it properly. It may not the size of the NFL market, but women's gymnastics is a huge success every four years and not so many people watch it between Olympic years. And elite Paralympians deserve some exposure so that they can benefit financially like elite Olympic athletes. NBC needs to wake up and see the diamond they left in the dark!

Sep. 08 2012 03:27 AM
GJR from montclair, new jersey

to add insult to injury, in addition to NBC's lack of coverage, the "official" YouTube channel for the paraolympics: is itself inaccessible to large sections of the disabled community - most egregious (& most easily fixed) is the use of graphical links with non-informative textual alternatives, which means if you cannot perceive or understand the meaning of the graphic, you cannot use that link as YouTube programmers chose to use the generic boiler-plate alternative text "Thumbnail" for every event graphic, making them indistinguishable from one another - this is an example of following the letter of the law (if you use an image, use the alt attribute to provide a textual alternative that conveys the same info as the graphic), and which thus might pass an automated "accessibility analysis/audit", but which completely fails the reality/logic test. even if one takes a leap of faith and chooses 1 of the generically labelled graphical hyperlinks in the hopes of getting a stream of a paraolympic event, the inaccessibility of the YouTube player's controls present steep-to-insurmountable obstacles to those operating in an eyes- and/or mouse-free environment, for ALL users should be able to easily and reliably access all interactive controls (fast-forward, review, pause, increase/decrease volume, etc.) additionally, at present, blind paraolympic fans are unable to activate and receive described video services from the YouTube player - a feature similar to the "lang" feature of a media player that allows a user to choose from among a list of alternative languages, only in the described video case, the description track is in the same natural language as the soundtrack, and its purpose is to convey to those who cannot visually process the video everything that is not explicitly described by the announcers and graphics and text which is intended to add context to the event, and which is intended to be read by the viewer

this is inexcusable, as there are constantly-updated guidelines on how to make a site - particularly an interactive site - accessible to all users, regardless of their physical limitations or the technologies they need to use in order to surf the web (i, being blind, use a screen reader) - there is even a very active accessibility initiative linked to the development of HTML5, so ignorance is not an xcuse - it is an act of unimaginable indifference to construct a site dedicated to the celebration of disabled athletics at its highest level and NOT ensure that that site itself is accessible to disabled netizens. for more info on web accessibility consult:
* Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at W3C:
* Guidelines & Techniques for Web Accessibility:
* Planning & Implementing Web Accesibility:
* Evaluating Web Accesibility:

Sep. 07 2012 12:58 PM
Amy from Manhattan

OK, so they may not combine the Olympics & the Paralympics anytime soon, but what about building the Olympic Village so it's accessible to people in the 1st place & doesn't need to be "converted" for the Paralympic athletes after the Olympics are over? Are they still doing it that way, & if so, why? After all, there's no reason people without disabilities can't use the ramps, etc.

Sep. 07 2012 12:00 PM

I have been hearing about all these attendance records the Paralympics have been setting, yet NBC, presumingly having the US rights, has done virtually nothing in promoting or showing the games. Is having an hour-long, nightly wrap up show, too much to ask for?

They have blown the chance to take the paralympics form an after-thought to a legitimate spectacle Stateside.

Sep. 07 2012 11:39 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.