Apple unveils disability-themed emojis in push for greater diversity
NEW YORK — Apple will introduce disability-themed emojis in a move designed to “bring even more diversity to the keyboard.”
The emojis, which were unveiled to coincide with World Emoji Day, will include a guide dog, an ear with a hearing aid, wheelchairs, a prosthetic arm and a prosthetic leg. They will be available to use later this year.
“Celebrating diversity in all its many forms is integral to Apple’s values and these new options help fill a significant gap in the emoji keyboard,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement.
The tech giant submitted a proposal for more emojis that were inclusive of disability in a proposal sent to the Unicode Consortium — the nonprofit organization that sets the global standard for emojis — in March 2018.
“Currently, emoji provide a wide range of options, but may not represent the experiences of those with disabilities,” Apple wrote at the time. “Diversifying the options available helps fill a significant gap and provides a more inclusive experience for all.”
Apple said it chose options that are most inclusive of people in four main categories: blind and low vision, deaf and hard of hearing, physical motor disabilities and hidden disabilities.
The iPhone maker said it had consulted with top organizations for people with disabilities when submitting the proposal.
Apple noted that the new additions to the emoji keyboard are designed to be a starting point, not a comprehensive list of all potential disabilities.
Kristina Barrick, a spokesperson for UK disability equality charity Scope, said the move was a “positive step towards disability being well and truly represented in the world of emoji.”
“We’ve had ghosts, robots, a poo with a face and even 10 empty squares to choose from, so it’s about time emojis started to better represent the 15% of the global population who are disabled,” she added.
The emojis are being released as part of a package of 59 new emojis that will arrive in the fall.
Other new emojis include animals (a sloth, flamingo, skunk and orangutan), foods (waffle, falafel, butter and garlic) and gender-neutral characters, along with more professions and clothing types.