The ubiquitous emoji has become a big part of today’s instant messaging (IM). We all use them – the quirky visual representation of a symbol, object or emotion – easily accessed by hitting the smiley face symbol on our devices, particularly smartphones. At the right time, and during casual communication, they can really help add emphasis to our words, raise a smile or show empathy. Of course, we should try to avoid overusing them so that we don’t appear thoughtless or dismissive. Similarly, they should be treated with caution during business communications – but they do have their place today’s world and they’re not disappearing any time soon. In fact, they look set to become an even more powerful messaging tool.
Which brings us to the new range of emojis that are getting the thumbs-up from disability campaigners. In response to a number of these campaigns, the organisation behind the symbols – The Unicode Consortium – has included a range of accessibility symbols among the 59 newly approved emoji images set for release in 2019, bringing very welcome greater diversity.
They include image-based characters such as guide dogs, hearing aids, prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs, helping to redress the under-representation of disabled people on the emoji keyboard. There will also be a wider range of mixed-gender and ethnicity couples from which to choose.
The new accessibility-themed icons have been welcomed by disability rights campaigners.
“Love them or hate them – emojis have become part of our everyday digital lives,” said Phil Talbot, the head of communications at disability equality charity Scope.
“Social media is hugely influential and it’s great to see these new disability-inclusive emojis. Up to now disability has been greatly underrepresented.”
The 59 newly approved images are expected to be released in the second half of 2019.
Lewis Reed Group
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