February 6, 2019
Insert a "Person Raising Both Hands in Celebration" emoji here (🙌), because we are thrilled about the 13 newly approved emojis representing people with disabilities!
The new characters include a hearing aid, a guide dog, a service dog, a mechanical arm, a mechanical leg, a person with a white cane, a person in a manual wheelchair, a person in a motorized wheelchair and a person signing the word "deaf." These accessibility-themed emojis are among the 59 new images released by the Unicode Consortium, which is the organization that standardizes the emoji characters offered by Apple, Google, Yahoo and more.
According to Disability Scoop, Apple submitted a proposal for new emojis representing people with disabilities back in March 2018. The tech company suggested creating male and female versions of the emoji with variants for skin tone, and that's just what the Unicode Consortium did.
Disability activists say the release of these inclusive emojis is a move in the right direction. As Phil Talbot, from the disability charity Scope, told BBC News, "Social media is hugely influential and it's great to see these new disability-inclusive emojis,"
"Up to now, disability has been greatly underrepresented...We'd also like to see greater representation of disabled people and disability across all parts of the media and social media."
Fortunately it won't be too long before you can start using these new emoji characters. According to Unicode Consortium's blog, the new emoji "start showing up on mobile phones in September/October [but] some platforms may release them earlier."
We're still trying to limit screen time for our kids (and ourselves), but we'll happily make an exception to show them these new and inclusive emojis. Representation is so important, and we're glad our children get to see people with disabilities doing awesome things as teachers, politicians, athletes, actors and even emojis.