Apple proposed new accessibility emojis Friday to “better represent individuals with disabilities,” according to the proposal. The new emojis (which can be viewed here) include a seeing eye dog, a service dog, the sign for “deaf,” both a mechanized and manual wheelchair, and more. Apple collaborated with American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and the National Association of the Deaf to create the emojis.
“Adding emoji emblematic to users’ life experiences helps foster a diverse culture that is inclusive of disability,” says the proposal to the Unicode Consortium — the gatekeeper for new emojis. “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.”
The proposed emoji, which were first reported by Emojipedia, would be available in different genders and skin colors, though Apple acknowledges that the potential emojis are “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.”
Before the accessibility emojis could be released to the public, the proposal would have to be accepted by the Unicode Consortium. And the process is no walk in the park. Fortune detailed the steps that an emoji must go through before users can happily send the images to friends. Proposals for new emoji must make a compelling argument as to why they should be made. In Apple’s proposal, for example, they note that “One in seven people around the world has some form of disability.”
An emoji subcommittee and then a technical committee select emojis, which are then put on the Unicode Consortium site for six months for public comment, finally they go to an annual committee, where the final decision is made.
There were initially 176 emojis, which were released in 1999. Now there are 1,182 emojis recognized by the Unicode Consortium. And as a testament to their popularity, the word “emoji” was added to Dictionary.com earlier this year.
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