The Unicode Consortium, the organisation responsible for approving the most used emoticon sets in the world, has released 59 distinct new emojis – 230 if you include all the gender variations and skin tone options – and they’re more representative than ever. From hearing devices to manual and motorized wheelchairs, prosthetics, guide dogs, service dogs and a white cane, the new symbols bode well for an increasingly inclusive representation of disability in social networks. The emojis, which are a clear, visible way for people with disabilities and impairments to be recognized and included, come one year after Apple first submitted a proposal calling for greater representation for people with disabilities.
But why do we care so much about those silly little faces? Emojis are rich in social and cultural significance and the discussion around them illustrates that how we communicate is vitally important. Emojis are widely used in texts and social media posts and every community of people should be represented and recognized as important to a global communication platform. If people get accustomed to seeing these symbols on a daily basis, it subconsciously increases awareness about diversity in them.
Following a campaign by girls' rights charity Plan International UK, the new update also includes a new 'drop of blood' sign which Unicode suggests could be used by women as a new way to talk about menstruation.
According to Unicode Consortium, the new emojis will be dropping in March. Keep your eyes peeled.