Apple has plans to introduce new Emojis to represent people with disabilities, according to the blog Emojipedia. The new emojis include a guide dog, hearing aid, prosthetic limbs, and people using canes and wheelchairs.
In its simplest sense, emojis are little pictures. In the wider sense they are portrayals of individual traits, a visual element that we can use and relate to in daily conversations. Emojis are the fastest-growing language worldwide, with more than 92% of the world’s online population using the ideograms, according a 2016 Report.
With aims to be more inclusive, Apple is expanding their emoji library with more diverse icons.
“Apple is requesting the addition of emoji to better represent individuals with disabilities,” the company wrote in its submission to the Unicode Consortium. “Currently, emoji provide a wide range of options, but may not represent the experiences of those with disabilities.”
The new emojis will be evaluated at the Unicode Technical Committee next month, and if approved, due for a release during the first half of 2019, according to The Verge.
Apple worked with various disability organizations to create these characters, including the American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the National Association of the Deaf, according to its submission to Unicode. The ultimate goal, the company says, is to expand the list in the future to ensure the range of emojis will provide something for everyone.
Last year, Apple added a sign language emoji for the gesture for ‘I Love You’, which delighted the Deaf community.
There’s now an emoji for the #asl sign for “I Love You” and that makes me happy. 🤟🤟🏻🤟🏼🤟🏽🤟🏾🤟🏿
— Sarah (@SarahInMI) November 1, 2017
On the other hand, labeling is always a hotly contested issue. What I’m attempting to illustrate is; we all are well aware that we are far more than our disability.
When introducing ourselves, we wouldn’t say, “This is Sarah, she has one leg,” or, “can I introduce Simon, he is blind.” We aren’t defined by one individual characteristic. The disabled emojis are a step in the right direction with regards to equality, but some might question if they’re worth anything?
The companies Barbie, Playmobil, and Lego have introduced toys with disabilities, as well as Oscar-winning Films and many books published bringing hugely important issues surrounding disability and mental health into society’s spotlight.
In my opinion, anything that brings disability awareness into the public domain is a good thing and raises awareness for all!
Portraying difference as a good thing… That’s a from me!