Apple Throws Support Behind Disability Emojis
Apple wants to see a host of new emojis introduced, all aimed at better representing people with disabilities in texts and other digital communications.
The technology giant issued a proposal this month calling for 13 emojis showing people using manual and power wheelchairs, service dogs and prosthetics, among other special needs. Many of the icons have male and female versions and Apple is recommending variants for skin tone as well.
“The current selection of emoji provides a wide array of representations of people, activities and objects meaningful to the general public, but very few speak to the life experiences of those with disabilities,” Apple said in the proposal. “This new set of emoji that we are proposing aims to provide a wider array of options to represent basic categories for people with disabilities.”
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The plan was submitted to the Unicode Consortium, the organization that standardizes emojis. The group is slated to meet next month to consider which icons could be added in 2019 to the catalog of emojis that Apple, Google and other device makers offer.
Apple said it worked with the American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the National Association of the Deaf to develop the emojis, which are aimed at four main categories of people — those who are blind or have low vision, individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, people with physical motor issues and hidden disabilities.
In the proposal, Apple acknowledged that the 13 emojis it’s recommending don’t offer a complete representation of 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,” the company said.
Apple’s move comes nearly two years after the London-based disability advocacy group Scope introduced a series of 18 emojis depicting people with various disabilities that are available for download. Scope said it hoped that releasing the icons would encourage the Unicode Consortium to incorporate similar icons in its library.