In a proposal sent to the Unicode Consortium – the non-profit organisation that sets the global standard for emojis – Apple is advocating for 13 new additions for people with disabilities. The proposed emojis for people with disabilities include an ear with a hearing aid, a person in a wheelchair, a prosthetic arm, a service dog and a person with a cane. Apple is requesting the addition of emoji to better represent individuals with disabilities. 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, said Apple in its proposal.
Apple said it chose options that are most inclusive to people in four main categories – blind and low vision, deaf and hard of hearing, physical motor disabilities and hidden disabilities. However, the company noted this is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all possible depictions of disabilities, but to provide a starting point for greater representation for diversity within the emoji universe. Apple said it consulted with top organisations for people with disabilities such as the American Council of the Blind, Cerebral Palsy Foundation and National Association of the Deaf, to put together the proposal.
The emojis must first be adopted by Unicode. After the non-profit releases its guidelines, software makers such as Apple and Google design versions for their respective platforms. Earlier this year, Unicode said 157 new emojis will be released later this year. The latest additions include animals, super heroes, new hairstyles and more expressive smileys. In recent years, there has been a bigger push to include more diverse emojis such as different skin tones, occupations and flags.