Apple Proposes New Accessibility Emojis; Including a Guide Dog, a Hearing Aid and People Using White Canes

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

This morning Unicode posted a proposal from Apple recommending the addition of 13 disability-themed emoji to Unicode’s global character standard. New emoji proposed include a guide dog, woman with white cane, man with white cane and ear with hearing aid.

The proposed emojis broadly cover four main categories - Blind and Low Vision, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Physical Motor, and Hidden Disabilities - and have been Developed in collaboration with organizations such as American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the National Association of the Deaf.

Apple states in its proposal that the addition of these new emoji would better represent people with disabilities and provide a more inclusive experience:

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.

This new set of emoji that we are proposing aims to provide a wider array of options to represent basic categories for people with 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.

According to Emojipedia, If approved, these characters would be shortlisted for potential inclusion in Emoji 12.0 which comes out in the first half of 2019. Emojipedia has a summary and image of each of the proposed new emoji.

These are the new emoji proposed by Apple:

  • Deaf sign, female
  • Deaf sign, male
  • Man in mechanized wheelchair
  • Woman in mechanized wheelchair
  • Ear with hearing aid
  • Woman in manual wheelchair
  • Man in manual wheelchair
  • Woman with white cane
  • Man with white cane
  • Prosthetic arm
  • Prosthetic leg
  • Guide dog with harness
  • Service dog with vest and leash

When including the options for skin tones, this makes a total of 45 proposed new enojis.

We would recommend that you read Apple's original proposal document, as this provides background to its proposal and an interesting insight in to how new emoji are proposed and approved.

We would love to hear your thoughts on these proposed new emoji, so do post a comment to let us know your opinion.

Blog Tags: 

8 Comments

#1 cool!

I like it! I've found a few times when that'd be great. I also believe Apple should include the different devices such as woman using braille display, or braille if possible. Don't know how Braille could be done, but I think it's worth a shot. Go Apple!!

#2 Nice

It is nice that apple is doing so if it goes. However they need to focus more on making sure their products work well for those of us who have a disability. They need to spend more in work instead of looking good in the media.

#3 Short White Canes

I became suspicious when I noticed that the only blindness organization consulted by Apple in press reports was the American Council of the Blind. A sighted friend examined the emojis and found the canes appear to only extend to the elbows of the blind people, who appear to be age 12. This cane length is below the sternum, which is the minimum cane length advocated by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. ACB regularly affiliates with AER. The National Federation of the Blind recommends that white canes extend past the chin. It is sad Apple has brazenly picked a political side in the white canes and travel debate rather than develop an image representative of independent blind travel. The blind people in the emoji’s are holding really short white canes with red tips and a black golf grip with the nylon cord around their wrists, which can often be a safety hazard. If blind people have their canes caught in the doors of rapid transit or light rail trains, they could be dragged to their deaths when the train rapidly accelerates rather than having the cane just knocked out of their hand if a strap is not wrapped around their wrist. It sets a poor example of cane use to the public and blind people everywhere. I will ask Apple to withdraw its submission and create new emoji that actually demonstrates safe independent travel.

I became suspicious when I noticed that Apple only consulted with the ACB about the emoji. A sighted friend examined the images and found the canes appear to only extend to the elbows of the blind people, who appear to be age 12. This cane length is below the sternum, which is advocated by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. ACB regularly affiliates with AER. The National Federation of the Blind recommends that white canes extend past the chin. It is sad Apple has brazenly picked a political side in the white canes and travel debate rather than develop an image representative of independent blind travel. The blind people in the emoji’s are holding really short white canes with red tips and a black golf grip with the nylon cord around their wrists, which can often be a safety hazard. If blind people have their canes caught in the doors of rapid transit or light rail trains, they could be dragged to their deaths when the train rapidly accelerates rather than having the cane just knocked out of their hand if a strap is not wrapped around their wrist. It sets a poor example of cane use to the public and blind people everywhere. I will ask Apple to withdraw its submission and create new emoji that actually demonstrates safe independent travel.

#4 o m g...

My emogy blind man/woman holding a cane may get pulled under a train!!!
Why then, I ought to be careful where and when I send them...

Sheesh, Its not apple but people like you that have to and must politicize everything.
By all means advocate against short cains all you want at the people and orgs recommending and using them, but this I find ridiculus.

And speaking of emogy proposal good on apple to propose such, at least someone is,I say.
Falcon

#5 Mixed feelings

An interesting idea. My only worry with these is they might be taken over by non-disabled people for things like insults. Just a feeling I got when I read about them... But that's life.

#6 Political much?

@Kelly ok, so there's no pleasing you? I mean, for god's sake, if you were in a wheelchair, you'd hate the symbol, and not hat the wheelchair wasn't red, blue, or whatever idiot thing you come up iwth. Yes, let the emoji exist, then bitch to heart's content on how this doesn't look like it should, or the golf grib isn't red or black or whatever color. Give Apple a bit of a shot instead of being on your high horse. Wait, can you see me from up that high? ;)

#7 Awesome

I like this. I actually heard about it on The Blind Side podcast, hosted by Jonathan Mosen and sometimes with his wife Bonnie. Just one more great thing that Apple is doing. I think I'm becoming an Apple fan boy, lol!

#8 Segment on WBEZ

Did anybody by chance catch yesterday's segment on WBEZ with ACB's own Eric Bridges? My brother emailed and tweeted me about this, but quite unfortunately I missed the segment when it aired live. I was working out at the local YMCA with one of my tutors when it first aired. I checked WBEZ's website for a rebroadcast or on-demand version, but couldn't find one. But then again it might be in their archives somewhere. I haven't had time to look there, as I am getting ready for tomorrow's iPhone training. But their website is www.wbez.org , for anyone who wants to try and listen in but hasn't.