Major Porn Site’s Accessibility Efforts Put Google to Shame


You just can’t make this stuff up. By now you’ve perhaps become somewhat weary of my frequent discussions of Google’s growing accessibility failures, as their site documentation, blogs, and user interfaces continue to devolve in ways that severely disadvantage persons with less than perfect vision or who have other special needs — a rapidly growing category of users that Google just doesn’t seem to consider worthy of their attention. Please see:  “How Google Risks Court Actions Under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)” — https://lauren.vortex.com/2017/06/26/how-google-risks-court-actions-under-the-ada-americans-with-disabilities-act — and other posts linked therein.

Now comes word of a major site that really understands these issues — that really does appreciate these accessibility concerns and is moving in the correct direction, in sharp contrast (no pun intended) with Google.

Here’s the kicker — it’s a porn site — supposedly the planet’s largest “adult entertainment” site, in fact. While I’m not a user of the site myself, tech news publications have confirmed the details of the accessibility press release that Pornhub distributed a few days ago.

Pornhub has rolled out world-class accessibility options across its platform, including visual element changes, narrated videos, and a wide array of keyboard shortcuts. “Enhancing the ability to contrast colors or to flip the text color and the background color or things like that can be very helpful to people who have low vision, which means they’re legally and functionally blind but they have some vision left,” says Danielsen [of Pornhub]. “Maybe they’re not using text to speech or braille to read the site.”

Bingo. They get it. These are the kinds of options I’ve been urging Google to provide for ages for their desktop services, to no avail.

At first glance, one might wonder why the hell a pornography site would be able to figure this out while Google, compromising some of the smartest people on the planet, keeps moving in exactly the wrong direction when it comes to major accessibility concerns.

Perhaps the explanation is that Google is great at technology but not so great when it comes to understanding the needs of people who aren’t in their target demographics. 

On the other hand, a successful porn site must by definition understand what their users of all stripes want and need. Porn is very much a people-oriented product.

I’m still convinced that the great Googlers at Google can get this right, if they choose to do so and allocate sufficient resources to that end. 

You’re probably expecting some sort of pun to close this post. Accessibility is a serious issue, and when a porn site tops Google in this important area, that’s a matter for sober deliberation, not for screwing around. After all, sometimes a cigar is indeed just a cigar.

–Lauren–

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