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Apr. 16 2010 - 1:27 pm | 2,262 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Porn For Blind People

Turns out blind people like porn. In fact, this urgent need was identified by Lisa Murphy, an entrepreneurial Canadian who saw a gap in the market—what she called “no books of tactile pictures of nudes for adults”—and went for it. She put out a book called Tactile Minds, which sells for about $225. Murphy, according to GearFuse.com, came up with the idea for raised sexual imagery after, oddly enough, authoring a book for blind children (which likely had no raised sexual imagery….).

Making porn visible to the sightless isn’t easy. Each book, according to GadgetReview.com, is between 13-15 cm thick and each edition takes between 40-50 hours to make.  You can see many of the… uh… illustrations here.

Up until Tactile Minds, the visually impaired had to settle for erotic audio books, essentially—a story in the BBC last year reported—“dirty talk for blind people.”  The story raised the issue that Murphy cites as the impetus for her book, that disabled people are being excluded from the world of adult entertainment.

Last July Lud Romano, who runs an Internet communications business, commissioned a series of short, erotic radio dramas which would be available on a website. The audience for this stuff—under the name Clickforeplay—was supposed to be “sexually confident, upwardly mobile young women” according to the BBC, “the sort of people who felt comfortable about buying erotic fiction from a High Street bookshop or browsing the more female-friendly adult shops.” But sales lagged.  So Romano turned to the visually impaired market (another entrepreneur who saw the gap…) and turned up the heat.

His approach has been to get beyond what he describes as the “bored housewife meets young pool cleaner” type plot and to aim for something that will appeal to more sophisticated tastes. He has a group of three writers who are simply told to “write naughty stories”. The plays are then recorded in a suite of rooms in north London “as live”. It’s not actors gathered around a microphone – they really act this, dynamically.”

For those who worry about the exploitative nature of pornography, it might be reassuring to know that Mr. Romano’s actors do, of course, keep their clothes on.

Romano and others believe the issue with all this is, simply, inclusion, that the disabled have a right to erotica and sexual expression, just like anyone else.  The Telegraph quoted Murphy as saying, “We’re breaking new ground. Playboy has an edition with Braille wording, but there are no pictures.” And, let’s face it, what’s porn without the pictures?  Murphy said she made the book when she realized “the blind have been left out in a culture saturated with sexual images.”  Whether or not a culture saturated in sexual images is actually a good thing isn’t her concern. She’s just worried that the sightless might be missing out on a lot of good erotica. Or not so good. Among the 17 raised images is a naked woman in a “disco pose,” a woman with “perfect breasts” and a “male love robot”—whatever that is. And there seems to be a lack of hands and real faces…


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    I'm a freelance journalist based in San Diego, Calif. I do a lot of business writing but also write about education, family life, social issues and politics. I have an interest in companies doing innovative work in science and technology. Over the years my work has been published in a variety of national publications, including The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, Self, Glamour, Psychology Today, CNNMoney.com, FORTUNE Small Business Magazine, Slate.com, Salon.com and others. I write a monthly column in the Sunday New York Times Business section called "Career Couch."

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