| Other Sport News | Tuesday August 28 2012 12:33
Don't pat people on the head.
Don't be patronising. Warn people if they are about to trip over something.
No, this is not a guide to being a human being. These are etiquette guidelines for media covering the London Paralympics, starting on Wednesday.
Oh, and talk to the person with the disability, not the person they are with.
So this is what happens when one of the world's least sensitive occupations clashes every four years with Paralympians.
Reading through them, the guidelines seem laughable.
I mean, what journalist would seriously pat an athlete on the head they did not know following their athletic endeavour?
When I put that question to an experienced media operator about to be involved at her fourth Paralympics, she provided a wry smile and a look that said: "You have no idea".
The guide also says not to interrupt, correct or speak for an athlete.
As a journalist, I have a major issue with this point.
Without correcting or assisting most able-bodied sportsmen, it is near impossible to cobble together a worthwhile quote.
In some areas, the guidelines do seem a little over the top.
Journalists are advised against using words such as "extraordinary" or "superhuman". Such terms apparently suggest the athlete had low expectations to start with.
Unfortunately, the UK's official Paralympic broadcaster Channel 4 didn't read the memo, with their promotional campaign titled "Meet the Superhumans".
The etiquette guide does try to make hacks relax around Paralympians and ensure they aren't terrified of making verbal slip-ups.
"Don't be embarrassed if you use phrases such as "see you later" (to an athlete with vision impairment) or "I'd better run along" (to someone who uses a wheelchair)," it reads.
Which is a good point. The mere mention of "legs" is not going to make a wheelchair athlete burst into tears - the fact is Paralympians are generally much tougher than most members of the fourth estate.
Journalists are reminded not to refer to Paralympians as Olympians and that the Olympics and Paralympics are separate events.
Are journalists really that thick?
Sadly, that might have to be a no comment.
Photo: Getty Images