Apple Proposes New Emoji to Represent People with Disabilities

Apple Proposes New Emoji to Represent People with Disabilities

A set of 13 new emoji designed to represent people with disabilities has been proposed by Apple to the Unicode Consortium. Apple expects the new figures and objects to provide a more inclusive experience and better diversity in the emoji universe.

The emoji were developed in collaboration with internationally recognized organizations such as the American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and the National Association of the Deaf.

According to its website, the Unicode Consortion “enables people around the world to use computers in any language.”

Its free specifications and data “form the foundation for software internationalization in all major operating systems, search engines, applications, and the World Wide Web.”

A meeting of the Unicode Technical Committee is planned for next month and will evaluate Apple’s proposal. If the new list of emoji is approved, they would be put on a shortlist of candidates for Emoji 12.0, which is expected to be released in the first half of 2019.

“We believe this proposal is a significant step forward in representing more diverse individuals, and we hope it will spark a global dialogue around better representation for people with disabilities,” Apple stated in its proposal.

Emoji are a universal language widely used in social media to represent daily life experiences, but also to show support for others. But there is a gap for those living with disabilities.

Everyone’s disability is unique, and Apple’s dilemma was how to best represent them. There were unlimited possibilities, but with limited characters to use.

For this proposal, Apple decided to select a set of emoji that would represent a larger number of people covered by four main disability categories:

  • blind and low vision;
  • deaf and hard of hearing;
  • physical motor;
  • hidden disabilities.

For people with vision disabilities the company proposed emoji characters of a guide dog with harness and a person with cane.

For those with hearing difficulties or who are deaf, Apple suggests an  emoji of the deaf sign, which is shared worldwide in all sign languages, and also the image of an ear with a hearing aid.

To represent people with physical motor impairments they developed emoji of a person in a mechanized and manual wheelchair, and also the possibility of a prosthetic arm and leg.

And to represent those with hidden disabilities the computer giant proposed a service dog with vest and leash emoji:

There were several factors taken into account for emoji inclusion. These included compatibility with existing systems; expected frequency of use — the proposed emoji are expected to be used often in the community of those affected by disabilities, including friends and family; character novelty, which is expected to represent something new and different; image distinctiveness; and completeness.

Apple’s proposal says these emoji have been frequently requested, and related emoji for disabilities have been the subject of at least three other proposals sent to the Unicode Consortium.

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