Apple® has proposed 13 new emojis to the Unicode Consortium, the non-profit that reviews emoji requests.
Working with the National Association of the Deaf, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the American Council of the Blind, Apple’s request includes four categories of emojis — deaf and hard of hearing, blind and low vision, physical disabilities, and hidden disabilities. Apple said in the proposal “The current selection of emoji provides a wide array of representations of people, activities, and objects meaningful to the general public, but very few speak to the life experiences of those with disabilities.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau 19 percent of the population — about 56.7 million people — had a disability in 2010, yet the Unicode Keyboard only includes a “wheelchair symbol” to represent the population. Apple acknowledged in the request that the proposed 13 emojis don’t offer a complete representation of disabilities. “This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all possible depictions of disabilities, but to provide an initial starting point for greater representation for diversity within the emoji universe,” the company said.
Scope, a London-based disability advocacy group, released 18 emojis representing people with various disabilities years ago. The series introduced by Scope are available for download, and they hoped that the release would encourage similar representations to be added to Unicode Consortium’s library. Apple’s proposal is helping to make that hope a reality.