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Accessible Sex Toys

What Does It Mean to Say a Sex Toy Is Accessible?

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Updated August 14, 2010

The terms access, accessible, and accessibility mean different things in different contexts. In the context of sex toys, an accessible sex toy simply means that it is a sex toy that is usable by someone to achieve the thing they want. For example, if I have difficulty manipulating small things, a sex toy with a big switch might be more accessible. If I have a hard time remembering the safest way to use a toy, a sex toy that only works one way might be more accessible for me. An accessible sex toy is a sex toy that I can use safely for sexual pleasure.

Manufacturing Accessible Sex Toys

Most sex toys are made with a very narrow understanding of the way our bodies work. As a result they tend to be limited in the pleasure they can provide, since we usually have to compromise some part of what we want, or how we want to use the toy, just to make it work. As consumers we get so used to working around the design of a product that we often don't even realize that if the manufacturer gave more thought to design and access we would all benefit.

There's no doubt that we could make sex toys in ways that would be more accessible to more people. Clearer instructions, larger switches, more flexibility in the design and most importantly in the way that a sex toy can be held and used, would all go a long way in making sex toys better. But the fact is that it would be very hard to make a sex toy that's accessible for everyone. The idea isn't that there should be one sex toy that everyone could use, instead the ideal would be that all sex toys would be more accessible, so more people could explore their options.

Sex Toys for Disabled People?

Sometimes people (and by people I mean everyone from the media to sex educators to the general sex toy using public) confuse the idea of accessible sex toys with the notion that there are sex toys "for disabled people". This isn't accurate. There's no such thing as sex toys for disabled people or disability sex toys. The main reason for this is that disabled people aren't a homogeneous group, they aren't all the same. You might say that people who self-identify as disabled do share an identity, and people who are labeled as having disabilities share a social stigma (and describing it that way is a HUGE simplification), but other than that there aren't many things that you can say are true for all disabled people, just as there aren't many things you can say are true for all Jewish people, or Muslim people, or white people. Being disabled doesn't mean one thing, and you can't make sex toys for disabled people anymore than you could make them for people who live in Akron, Ohio. I mean, you could try. But you'd fail!

That said, on a society level there are ways to make sex toys more accessible for everyone. And on an individual level there are questions you can ask yourself or your partner about what they want to do and how they want to do it, that would help you figure out if a sex toy is going to be accessible for you. If you're interested you can read our sex toy accessibility checklist, which takes you through some of the questions to ask.

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