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Apple proposes new emojis for people with disabilities

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 26/3/2018 BrieAnna J. Frank

a close up of a keyboard: App development for the Apple iPhone is a rapidly growing job sector. © Apple App development for the Apple iPhone is a rapidly growing job sector. Apple has outlined a series of emojis "to better represent individuals with disabilities," according to a proposal submitted to the Unicode Consortium.

People on social media have been cheering for what some called long overdue representation. Emojis with hearing aids and using sign language, wheelchairs and white canes are among the proposed options for iPhones.

The proposal states that emojis "may not represent the experiences of those with disabilities," but that diversifying emoji options "helps fill a significant gap and provides a more inclusive experience for all." 

The new emojis would focus on representing people with disabilities in four main categories -- blind and low vision, deaf and hard of hearing, physical and motor skills and hidden disabilities.

Fostering a diverse culture

"Adding emoji emblematic to users’ life experiences helps foster a diverse culture that is inclusive of disability," the proposal said.

The emojis were developed in collaboration with organizations such as the American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the National Association of the Deaf, the proposal said.

Images of the proposed emojis included service dogs, a person using a white cane, an ear with an attached hearing aid, people using various types of wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs. 

The company suggested two separate emojis for mechanized and manual wheelchairs, saying that "the type of assistive technology that is used by individuals is very personal" and that showing only a manual wheelchair would be unrealistic for someone "who cannot self-propel." 

"Generalizing these two would be akin to assuming the motor scooter and kick scooter are the same thing," the proposal went on to say. 

The proposal also included search data from Google for the included disabilities to showcase the relevance and need for the new emoji line.

It wasn't immediately clear when or if the proposed emojis would be approved. 

Emojis as expression

People on social media reacted to the news, largely applauding Apple's effort to make its emoji line more inclusive.

Some people questioned what took so long.

But overall, the response was positive

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