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Paralympics set to leave lasting impression on London (+video)

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Channel 4’s coverage has been capped each night by a talk-show-style program hosted by the Australian comedian Adam Hills, who happens to have one leg himself.  

“The Last Leg,” as the show is called, offers an irreverent roundup of the day’s Paralympics news. In a popular segment titled “Is it ok?” Hills and his cohosts have been fielding viewers’ questions about disability. Some recent queries, submitted via Twitter: “Is it ok to wonder what happens if a runner’s prosthetic leg falls off in the middle of a race?” and “Is it ok to ask for a high-five from someone with a hand disfigurement?”

“They've been talking about disability in the most down-to-earth and natural way,” wrote Ms. Morgan, the sports anchor, who has been covering the Paralympic Games herself for Channel 4. “I know that they didn't want to hide from anything; they wanted to be as blunt and honest as they could.”

Whether those open discussions and good feelings will continue after the Paralympics comes to a close remains to be seen. But there’s one impact of the Games that will certainly endure well after all of the athletes have left town: the myriad infrastructure changes that have made the British capital a city more friendly to disabled people.

“There have been numerous changes right across London,” says Margaret Hickish, an accessibility consultant who has been working since 2005 to help the city prepare for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

All of the city’s buses and black taxicabs are now fully accessible to people in wheelchairs, and 66 of London’s 270 Tube stations have been made step-free. The government invested £4 million ($6.4 million) in overhauling the South Bank, a popular tourist destination, to make it more accessible to disabled visitors. And Heathrow Airport has undergone extensive renovations in preparation for the arrival of the Paralympic athletes.

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