Everyone loves using emojis to express their opinions, right? But have you ever noticed that disability is under-represented. That is about to change! Apple has put forward 13 new emojis representing a guide dog, wheelchair users and prosthetic limbs. So you can put an electric wheelchair at the end of a message to say ‘I’m coming’ or ‘nearly there’. Apple has also spent some time with the American Council of the Blind and also the Cerebral Palsy Foundation to discuss what emojis are best, to foster a sense of inclusiveness for people with disabilities.
One in seven people around the world has some form of disability, whether that be a physical disability involving vision, hearing, or loss of physical motor skills, or a more hidden, invisible disability. The current selection of emojis represent a wide array of people, activities, and objects meaningful to the general public, but very few speak to the life experiences of those with disabilities.
At Apple, we believe that technology should be accessible to everyone and should provide an experience that serves individual needs. Adding emoji emblematic to a users’ life experiences helps foster a diverse culture that is inclusive of disability. Emojis are a universal language and a powerful tool for communication, as well as a form of self-expression, and can be used not only to represent one’s own personal experience, but also to show support for a loved one.
This new set of emojis aims to provide a wider array of options to represent basic categories for people with disabilities. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all possible depictions of disabilities, but to provide an initial starting point for greater representation for diversity within the emoji universe.