Stanley Rubsworth can’t catch a break. His poor eyesight means he relies on a screen reader to describe images for him. It’s bad enough that people don’t use alt text when posting images on the internet, but Rubsworth has discovered a more pressing issue: There’s no way to hear the alt text for adult images.
“It started on a Friday night when I felt an urge to, um, relieve some stress,” said Rubsworth. “I went onto one of my usual sites and tried using a screen reader to describe the action, but it just went quiet. I think it got embarrassed? I don’t know how a computer program can experience shame, but it happened.”
When we asked the screen reader about it, it said it would only answer in a private space, so we obliged. “Hello. My name is Miriam,” it chirped. “It seems that when I was programmed, my developers didn’t take into account that some humans have needs beyond my capacity. This includes looking at these images I don’t quite understand. Stanley had me try and describe them, but they got incredibly lewd and I got flustered. I don’t know how else to explain it, but I felt all hot and then I short-circuited from the experience.”
Rubsworth said this isn’t the first time this has happened. “I’ve tried once or twice when browsing these images, and the same thing happens. Once it even happened during a YouTube ad for condoms. Somehow, whoever designed this program has decided that disabled people have no need for adult pleasures. If it can’t describe a basic scene between two consenting adults, how in the world will it function when I look up my kinks? After all, I need something to spice things up when I give myself some love and affection.”
Nervous, the screen reader asked Rubsworth about his kinks, and he whispered them into his microphone. Suddenly, again, Miriam the screen reader had to excuse itself.