Apple proposes accessibility emojis to better represent disabilities

If approved, Apple's new accessibility emojis could launch in the second half of 2019.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor

Apple has requested the Unicode Consortium add emoji to better represent individuals with disabilities. In total, Apple proposed 13 new emojis including a guide dog, hearing aid, and people using canes and wheelchairs.

Apple wrote in its proposal to Unicode Consortium it worked on the accessibility emoji with the American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and the National Association of the Deaf:

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 are 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.

Apple said the list is not meant to be comprehensive of all "possible depictions of disabilities," but rather a starting point. The proposed emoji include (via Emojipedia):

  • Guide Dog With Harness
  • Service Dog With Vest and Leash
  • Person With White Cane
  • Ear With Hearing Aid
  • Deaf Sign
  • Person in Mechanized Wheelchair
  • Person in Manual Wheelchair
  • Mechanical or Prosthetic Arm and Leg

There is currently only one disability-related emoji offered to users -- the "wheelchair symbol," The Mighty pointed out. This is despite one in seven people living with a disability, Apple said in its proposal.

If Unicode approves Apple's proposal at its April meeting, the emoji will probably launch in the second half of 2019 alongside Emoji 12.0. Unicode Consortium will launch Emoji 11.0 in the second half of this year with 157 new emoji.

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