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Monday 26 March 2018

Apple's Pushing For New Emojis With Disabilities

Apple's Pushing For New Emojis With Disabilities

Whether you like them or not, emojis are now part of a universal language for those with smartphones, tablets, or any access to the internet. We've moved far past simple smiley faces, however, and it's not hard to see when scrolling through your phone that there's a lot about the human experience that's missing.
That's where Apple's proposal comes in.

Apple just put in a proposal for some brand new emojis — ones that represent disabilities.

They point out that while emojis are starting to represent more and more, there aren't very many that speak specifically to people with disabilities.

"Diversifying the options available helps fill a significant gap and provides a more inclusive experience for all."

"Adding emoji emblematic to users’ life experiences helps foster a diverse culture that is inclusive of disability," said Apple in their proposal.

They came up with 13 new emojis (which includes male and female options), but they're careful to say that this is just a beginning.

They wanted to help cover four main areas: Blind and Low Vision, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Physical Motor, and Hidden Disabilities. 

These two emojis of people walking with white canes are one of Apple's first suggestions.

The emojis are also supposed to come with skin tone variants, since we're not all yellow with yellow hair.

This friendly guide dog with a harness is the second emoji meant to better represent those who are blind or visually impaired.

I would respectfully not touch this hardworking doggo if I saw him in person, but I would oooh and aah from afar.

These emojis are of people using sign language to say "deaf." 

Apparently with all the different versions of sign language in the world, there isn't one universal sign for "deaf," but this is the one most widely used.

Apple also included a hearing aid emoji.

The idea is to be inclusive towards a wide range of hearing loss. Again, the emoji is supposed to come with a variety of skin tones.

It really surprises me that this emoji didn't already exist.

How could we not have emojis of people using wheelchairs? Wheelchairs are basic facts of transportation, and my emoji keyboard has a pager emoji. A pager.

Apple made sure to include people using mechanized wheelchairs as well.

"The type of assistive technology that is used by individuals is very personal and mandated by their own disability need," said Apple. "Therefore, these should be seen as two totally separate forms of assistive device. Generalizing these two would be akin to assuming the motor scooter and kick scooter are the same thing."
Which, of course, would be ridiculous.

These are the emojis we need.

Seeing emojis like the prosthetic/mechanical arm and prosthetic/mechanical leg show what huge gaps emojis have for inclusive representation. Thank goodness people are at least making a start at addressing this.

No, there isn't a second dog just because dogs are cute. This one's for hidden disabilities.

This service dog has a vest instead of a harness, different equipment to show the different role he has in helping people with autism, seizures, PTSD, etc.

The reaction for the emojis seems mostly positive, with lots of suggestions on social media for new emojis as well.

These 13 emojis will have to go through an approval process with Unicode, but if they pass, they should come out in 2019.

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