Here at Lemonada, accessibility is a core value, which is why we were SO STOKED to see the news that Apple is adding “more diversity to the keyboard” with disability-themed emojis this fall. They will include a guide dog, an ear with a hearing aid, a person signing the word “Deaf,” a person in a wheelchair, a prosthetic arm, and a prosthetic leg, among others.
You may not know that there has only been one emoji to represent all disabilities since 2005—the wheelchair symbol. Disability rights activist Ace Ratcliff wrote more about the new emojis for the Huffington Post:
“People with disability make up the largest minority population on the planet, and we include members of every other minority population in our group; disability does not differentiate based on skin color, gender or sexuality. More than 1 billion people worldwide have some form of disability, which corresponds to about one in seven people.
Look at an emoji keyboard, however, and you’d never know we exist at all. But if you’re a vampire or a merperson, you’re covered; there are currently seven emojis representing fantasy characters like fairies and elves. That’s seven official, already-released emojis of creatures that do not and will never actually exist in the real world.”
By opening up the whole world of human experience—and, yes, being able to use an emoji to express an emotion is part of the human experience—we are all better off.
Vogue Business recently published a nice roundup of beauty brands that are committing themselves to greater accessibility. L’Occitane, for instance, started putting braille on its packaging in 1997:
“In the 1990s, founder Olivier Baussan noticed a blind customer in a store feeling the bottles in an attempt to get familiar with the product. He started putting braille on the company’s packaging in 1997.
About 70 percent of L’Occitane products now come with braille labelling, but technical constraints limit full deployment. The brand has found it particularly challenging to include such lettering on smaller products like soaps and tubes. Research and implementation led to an additive cost of about 25 per cent, “but we’re willing to pay this because this is so meaningful”, says a spokesperson for the L’Occitane Foundation.”
There are miles to go before we see accessibility in every industry, but we are happy to applaud these small steps when we see them!
Lemonada will be discussing disability and accessibility on As Me with Sinead, coming this fall.