Disability Technology

Apple’s new Disability emojis – what do people think?

3rd November 2019

Earlier this week, a new iOS software (version 13.2) was released for iPhone users. 

I am by no means an expert when it comes to technology but I saw the rumours for a while about a release of more emojis representing disability. Before the update, there was only one – the blue wheelchair sign that is known worldwide to represent disability.

But as we all know, not everyone uses a wheelchair and disability is a HUGE spectrum. The new disability themed emojis includes A robotic arm and leg, gendered and non-gendered people in manual and powered wheelchairs, gendered and non-gendered people using guide canes, a guide dog and a person who is deaf.

I recently asked over on my Twitter what people’s thoughts were on the emojis and what it might mean for diversity and representation of disability. Here is what some of them had to say…

I think they’re great, it’s wonderful to feel included with emojis we can closely identify with. I don’t personally need them (the sunglasses emoji suits me best), but my iPhone 6 can’t get the update anyway. But if/when my sight deteriorates in future, I’ll certainly use them.

Glen | Well Eye Never

“Great that disabilities are included in emoji list. But all emojis create #LotsOfWords for screen Reader users so essential that they are used sparingly. I won’t be using them at all!”

Ken

I think it’s a fantastic start & so pleased to see people who use wheelchairs & people who are visually impaired represented, plus I’ve noticed a few others. I was getting excited to look out for an emoji for a person with a walking stick as only been using one all the{…}Time for the last two weeks so would help me in a little way with the adjustment (might sound bit weird!) Sadly, I can’t see one for a person with a walking stick. Don’t know if plans for this for later.

Jan

I’d really like to see a walking stick one (that is not the stereotypical hunched older person!). I sometimes use a mobility scooter and sometimes (short distances only) a walking stick.

Betty Lou

I love the new emojis! I even went out and finally got a new phone the day they came out as I wanted them so much! The lady with the cane has a pink top and blue trousers just like me in my profile picture. It’s so awesome to be able to represent myself in emoji form.

Amy | Cane Adventures

I love that there’s now Disabled Emoji available because as well as allowing any of us who are disabled to express ourselves in a fun and interesting way, it also means that future generations will grow up recognising disabilities, even if it is in a very small way.

Luke | Luke Sam Snowden

Love them, so glad they’re finally here! I can’t wait to use them more often. Hopefully, they will help to raise more awareness of disability.

Holly | Life of a Blind Girl

Overall from the people who contributed their thoughts, the reviews were mostly positive but with some improvements or ideas, which we could see in the future.

I think they are a great addition to the new iOS software, and will probably be using some of them in conversations and tweets, and on my other social media. 

What are your thoughts on the new Disability emojis? Will you be using them? Let me know in the comments!

Ella x

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