Pornhub, one of the most visited porn sites on the internet, just made x-rated videos more accessible by adding closed captioning to over 1000 of its best performing videos in a new “Closed Captions” category. The move is a win for accessibility advocates and people who might just enjoy reading and watching their porn.

The captions appear on a translucent black background at the bottom of a video (so you can still see the entire picture if you squint), and display text corresponding to audio that includes dialogue and non-dialogue.

In a cursory review of a few videos in the category Wednesday morning, I could find 354 straight videos and 47 gay videos categorized as having closed captions. The videos I watched captured traditional dialogue and words said during sex scenes. It’s not clear whether or not there is any sort of policy on other sound in the video besides dialogue. In one video I watched, non-syllabic screaming was consistently captioned with “Screaming.” In another, only dialogue was captioned despite a wide range of other noises.

In a press release, Pornhub highlighted that the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that 15 percent of American adults have some sort of hearing impairment.

That number isn’t insignificant. For Pornhub, which is valued at $58,240,646, increasing those users’ experiences and attracting new users could help them continue to grow, and dominate online porn.

Porn’s History with Captions

Pornhub’s main competitors, XHamster and XVideos, don’t include built-in captioning capability, but searches on both reveal another option for fans of hearing impaired porn-fans — fan-created videos with captions hardcoded into the video.

Since the beginning of internet time, fans have created captions and subtitles for their own own videos. Previously (and still), these were shared on P2P sites or on communities like Reddit. They’ve also lived on sites like Pornhub, but the new category and service may take some of the leg work out of the process for hearing impaired porn fans.

In 2008, Dino Capone attempted to launch a porn company specifically targeting a deaf audience called Deaf Bunny. Their first DVD, “Naughty Deaf Roommates,” featured sign language, thought bubbles, and subtitles to make it accessible, according to Wired. Unfortunately, Deaf Bunny doesn’t appear to exist any longer.

Hurdles for Closed Captioned Porn

In an essay on Ravishingly, one previous porn captioner, presumably for DVD’s, described the unique challenges facing porn-captioning, describing the consideration of what parts the captions obscure, and what reads as sexy (“flatulence” over “farting” apparently).

More relevant to Pornhub was her description of what she was forced to caption:

>I was provided with the sketchiest, lowest budget, heteronormative porn that was often borderline if not just totally-over-the-top upsetting… None of the content was queer, most of it was filmed in a hotel room, and a lot of the women involved almost seemed like unwilling participants.

Pornhub seems to be taking a similar approach to their captioning, choosing the most popular videos on their site to include in the service. As the ratio of gay to straight videos (47:354), this method is already favoring a straight audience. While we won’t place any judgment on porn content, it’s also notable that Pornhub’s top-viewed video page includes a video titled “stepdaughter blackmailed.”

Overall, Pornhub’s captioning service is a true win for accessibility, but as with most sectors of technology and culture, fair representation and diversity are important considerations for the future.