New Apple Emojis Will Represent People with Disabilities

Recent news from Apple shows a new series of emojis coming with the next iOS update. The set intends to “better represent individuals with disabilities.” To accomplish this, Apple partnered with groups such as the American Council of the Blind, the National Association for the Deaf, and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. Keep reading to learn more, or follow the story at the original source.

According to data cited within Apple’s new emoji proposal one in every seven people has some kind of disability. Whether that disability is visible or not, Apple states that they want to better include these people and voices within their service.

The new batch of texting icons contains emojis with hearing aids, shows people using canes, and wheelchairs, and includes some representations of sign language. The response form social media users has thus far been overwhelmingly positive. This kind of representation is seen as long overdue but welcome nonetheless.

Apple clarified in their statements that the new emojis may not provide representation for every person with a disability or for every disability experience. They do, however, represent an opportunity to close the gap and create a more inclusive experience for all users.

The proposal continued to explain that “adding emoji emblematic to users’ life experiences help foster a diverse culture that is inclusive of disability.” Lest this not be the case, Apple spent a fair amount of concern in developing these new symbols appropriately. The tech giant consulted with the American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and the National Association of the Deaf. While emojis of service dogs, and hearing aids were somewhat simple to develop, topic such as wheelchairs and prosthetics required more attention to detail.

In the case of wheelchairs, for example, two different emojis have been suggested. One for mechanized users, and another for manual wheelchairs. Apple feels that the type of technology an individual uses is deeply personal. Representing this form of disability with a manual wheelchair only generalizes the disability and is “unrealistic” for individuals who “cannot self-propel.”

Some users do question the amount of time it has taken to get this sort of representation. Others still see the emoji as a triviality, or believe the gesture somewhat futile. After all, emojis aren’t a cure. But they are a form of expression. And they will bring awareness, and acceptance along with the voices now represented through them.

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