Hearing Blog
Girl with phone sending the new disbility friendly emojis

Apple announces new disability-friendly emojis

Published 18-07-2019
Last Updated 18-07-2019

Computer and cell phone manufacturing giant, Apple, has released their plans to update their messaging platform with 13 new emojis designed to represent individuals with disabilities. 
The decision by Apple to release a new set of emojis to better represent people living with disabilities has received a favorable response since the news was made public just days ago.

Among the 13 new emojis are icons such as an individual in a wheelchair, service animals, prosthetic limbs and - our personal favorite - an ear with a hearing aid!

These are the types of changes we love to see. The company issued a series of statements along with the news to highlight some of the key motivators behind the decision:

"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 is 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."

Multiple well-respected organizations within the community were involved in the the collaboration efforts such as the 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."

The proposal was made to the Unicode Consortium, which is essentially like the Emoji Council of Elders that approves updates to the widely used messaging icons. The organization was established 24 years ago to develop standards for translating alphabets into code that can be read across all computers and operating systems. They are tasked with building the world's first digital language.

The next Unicode Technical Committee meeting sits next month at Adobe Headquarters in San Jose. If approved, these characters would be shortlisted for potential inclusion in Emoji 12.0 which comes out in the first half of 2019.

Until then, we'll just have to wait for the update to hit cell phones everywhere. While Apple has already made statements well-aware that these 13 emojis are not representative of all forms of disability, it's definitely a step in the right direction and we're all here for it.