Emojis are reportedly one of the fastest-growing ‘languages’ in the world. The small digital icons used on social media and text messages can convey almost every emotion or picture you can think of. Everything from a computer mouse to a merman is represented in the images. One thing you won’t find, however, is an emoji of a disabled person. Now though, in a move to make the digital world more accessible, Apple and Google have announced a range of new emojis to be rolled out that will help represent the currently unrepresented.
According to World Health Organisation figures, a huge 15% of the population live with some form of disability, yet this sector of the population has historically been widely under-represented. While many practical improvements have been made, such as building regulations accommodating for wheelchair users, there’s still a long way until people with disabilities are fully represented. Phil Talbot, head of communications at disability equality charity Scope told the Guardian;“Up to now, disability has been greatly underrepresented.”
The New Collection
The new collection of 12 icons is set to be rolled out before the end of the year and the announcement has already created a buzz worldwide. The newest symbols include a powered wheelchair user, assistance dog, prosthetic limbs and someone using sign language. Visually impaired blogger, Stephanie Collins is pleased with the introduction of the new emojis and what it means for the future of representation. Stephanie explained; “Emojis have become a crucial part of how many of us communicate. They can help share congratulations, personal news, good and bad moods, wishes, and plans. It’s only right that people with disabilities, as the world’s largest minority, are represented in, and able to access, culture and communication like this equally.”
Push for Inclusivity
While the emojis represent progress when it comes to inclusion, there have been some disabled people who have been disappointed with the length of time it has taken for the big tech companies to take this step. Regardless, it seems that now progress has been made, the digital sector will continue to try and push for inclusivity. A spokesperson for Apple explained; “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.”