A new generation of emojis are coming out this year, including images of people with disabilities.
Unicode Consortium, the organisation that manages the distribution of emojis around the world announced the launch of new emojis and believe “they will add cheer and context to our daily communications but will also help create more digital inclusivity.”
It has announced 230 new emojis including an array of new characters that represent disability and accessibility.
Emojis have become a crucial part of how many of us communicate. They can help share congratulations, personal news, good and bad moods, wishes, and plans. It is only right that people with disabilities are represented in, and able to access, culture and communication like this equally.
Unicode explained that it had been working towards more inclusive representation in emojis over the last number of years. The body added skin-tone support in 2015 and increased representation of women the year after. The latest emoji update, the sixth major roll-out since 2014, includes people with various disabilities.
The idea was proposed last year by Apple, which said: “Adding emoji emblematic to users’ life experiences helps foster a diverse culture that is inclusive of disability.”
Later this year, smartphones will have 59 new emojis representing people with disabilities. The new icons include men and women with a range of disabilities. There will be people with a white cane, with a service dog, with prosthetic limbs, using a wheelchair, and with a hearing aid. There is also an emoji of someone using sign language.
Boosting representation for people with disabilities
Phil Talbot from the UK disability charity Scope said: “Social media is hugely influential and it’s great to see these new disability-inclusive emojis. Up to now, disability has been greatly underrepresented.”
Talbot added that there is still more to be done to better represent people with disabilities across all parts of traditional and social media.