Person in Manual Wheelchair; Deaf Sign; Person with White Cane; Prosthetic Leg: Service Dog with Vest and Leash. Person in Power Wheelchair; Ear with Hearing Aid; Guide Dog with Harness; Prosthetic Arm
Apple is requesting the addition of emoji to better represent individuals with disabilities. Currently, emoji provide a wide range of options, but may not represent the experiences of those with disabilities. Diversifying the options available helps fill a significant gap and provides a more inclusive experience for all. Introduction One in seven people around the world has some form of disability, whether that be a physical disability involving vision, hearing, or loss of physical motor skills, or a more hidden, invisible disability. 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.
At Apple, we believe that technology should be accessible to everyone and should provide an experience that serves individual needs. Adding emoji emblematic to users’ life experiences helps foster a diverse culture that is inclusive of disability. Emoji are a universal language and a powerful tool for communication, as well as a form of self-expression, and can be used not only to represent one’s own personal experience, but also to show support for a loved one. 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. 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. Selection Process Every individual’s experience with their disability is unique and, therefore, the representations have unlimited possibilities. It would be impossible to cover every possible use case with a limited set of characters.
For this proposal, we have selected a set of emoji that are most inclusive to a large number of people in four main categories: Blind and Low Vision, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Physical Motor, and Hidden Disabilities. Developed in collaboration with internationally respected community organizations such as American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the National Association of the Deaf, 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.
If the next Unicode Technical Committee meeting grants approval, these characters would be shortlisted for potential inclusion in the first half of 2019.