A selection of disability emojis, showing disabled people and paralympians

One disability emoji isn’t enough ♿. So we’ve made 18 to celebrate World Emoji Day

It’s World Emoji Day on Sunday (17 July) and we’re celebrating by releasing a set of 18 emoji designs featuring disabled people and Paralympic sports.

Billions of emojis are sent every day on social media and on messaging services like Whatsapp. Despite ongoing efforts to make emojis more diverse with different skin tones and same sex couples, there is just one to represent disability – a wheelchair-user sign, often used as an accessible toilet sign.

We think this isn’t good enough. So we hope that our 18 new emoji designs will inspire Unicode, the organisation that oversees emojis, to represent disabled people in a positive way.

Check out our emoji designs below. You can download the images on a desktop by right clicking on them and clicking ‘save image as’. You can then share your favourite emojis as an image on social media.

These aren’t proper emojis just yet, but you can still share the Jpegs. Alternatively, just share this blog post. 

Celebrating the Paralympics

The latest emoji release in June included Olympic sports and medals, but no recognition of the Paralympics.

With Rio 2016 fast-approaching, our emojis feature a number of Paralympians, including a wheelchair tennis player, modeled after Jordanne Whiley, Britain’s most decorated tennis player of all time and recent Wimbledon doubles champion, and a swimmer inspired by four-time gold medallist Ellie Simmonds.

An IPC swimmer
An IPC swimmer

Team Paralympics GB’s Jordanne Whiley and her partner, Japan’s Yui Kamiji, were crowned Wimbledon champions in the women’s wheelchair doubles last weekend.

Jordanne, who has brittle bones disease, says that she loves her wheelchair emoji:


A wheelchair tennis player
A wheelchair tennis player

“Emojis are so popular – everyone uses them, so everyone should be represented. It’s shocking that there’s only one character to symbolise disability.

When I was growing up, I didn’t see people like me on TV, in magazines or in films.

I want young people to see that it doesn’t matter what shape or size you are; you can still be successful. You don’t have to look a certain way to fit in.

It would be great for disabled people to be reflected in the wide range of emojis.”

Sorry, but one emoji is not enough!

Man signing BSL 'sorry'
Man signing BSL ‘sorry’

We asked more than than 4,000 Twitter users whether they thought that one emoji was enough to properly represent disability: 65% said it wasn’t.

Our campaign manager Rosemary Frazer agrees:

“From crème caramel to two types of camel, emojis offer a colourful array of more than 1,800 characters to help sum up how you’re feeling.

So it’s disappointing that disabled people are represented with just one emoji – the wheelchair user sign.

As a wheelchair user, I’m shocked by the lack of imagination. This one symbol can’t represent me and the disabled people I know.

To truly represent the world we live in, disabled people should be included in a way that reflects the diversity of our lives.”

We hope people will use our emojis to support team ParalympicsGB during this year’s games in Rio and beyond. Too often disabled people aren’t included when we talk about diversity.

Let’s change that.

Paralympic athletes celebrating
Paralympic athletes celebrating

Download and save the emojis above and help us spread the word by using them on Twitter and Facebook. 

You can download the images on a desktop by right clicking on them and clicking ‘save image as’. You’ll then have a Jpeg to share on social media. Alternatively, just share this blog post. 





47 thoughts on “One disability emoji isn’t enough ♿. So we’ve made 18 to celebrate World Emoji Day”

  1. Fantastic! Any chance of a paraequestrian? Either riding or carriage driving – so popular and well supported in the equestrian world. 😀🐎 👍

    1. Thanks for your suggestion Janet. We’re planning to release more characters based on the most popular suggestions – so look out for our next batch!

    1. Thanks for your feedback Jossy. We’re planning to release more characters based on the most popular suggestions – so look out for our next batch!

  2. Loads of these are great. It would be good to have some Boccia players as well to increase the profile of the sport, and it would also start to represent many paralympians who may use powered wheelchairs. These emojis such a move forwards, thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Bethany, we love Boccia and will try and include it, and thanks for the powered wheelchair response. We tried to include as many sports and events as possible, and hopefully we can do even more next time!

    1. We’re planning to release more characters based on the most popular suggestions – so hopefully we can include horses next time. Thanks for your feedback.

  3. Hi what a fantastic job. You asked if you had missed anything, it would be great to see someone wearing a communication device. My daughter wears an iPad on a harness, it’s her voice. Others have communication books on a strap. I can send a picture if you like?

    1. That’s a great idea, thanks Tracey. We’re hoping to release some more designs in the future and will be collecting your suggestions.

  4. This dope but it needs a wheelchair basketball one maybe switch out the top one on the left looks like and able body playing in a hospital chair

    1. Hey, just a reminder that some disabilities are invisible. The emoji that you say looks like an able-body playing in an hospital chair is the one that I think looks most like me!!! I have an autoimmune disease that attacks my joints and sometimes my hip, knee, foot, all three, or entire body just won’t be up for walking. For those days, I have a wheelchair that my partner pushes me in (since it is my joints that are effected). On days people see me walking without my cane, I look like a healthy, able-bodied person, despite what I might be feeling or how my disease may be effecting me. I think we can keep that emoji and add the basket emoji. 😊

  5. Thanks! We’ll try and get Wheelchair basketball in the next set of emojis.

    1. Definitely. We’re really keen to make sure we have something representing invisible impairments for the next batch of designs. Let us know if you think of any ideas!

  6. As a principle, it’s usually good to include those with invisible impairments. However, emojis are graphics (and very basic ones at that) How do you render something invisible in a visual context? Where something like BSL signposts an invisible impairment, most other types do not show themselves indirectly like that in any way. I’m not going to be upset if you can’t represent people like me in an emoji! (It’s epilepsy in my case, FWIW)

    1. Thanks for your feedback. We’re looking into how we can represent invisible impairments but as you say it’s tough with graphics. Let us know if you think of any ideas!

  7. This is a great idea. Can you also add some of the invisible disabilities? Food allergies, mental illness, autism, epilepsy and diabetes are all invisible disabilities. Thank you.

  8. … this will sound silly, but I don’t get one of those. The disability of… standing up while waving a british flag? Maybe he has a foot missing, but the other one is drawn in very light blue, so this is confusing. And I’d guess that people missing a foot wear some prosthetic and don’t just float around with their trousers ending with nothing. (In case I am missing something obvious: sorry, I’m just coming from an optometrist and my pupil is still dilated.)

    Or maybe he’s just cheering for the paraolimpic team.

    Or that is the all-purpose invisible disability emoji.

    1. With Emojis we think a lot is open to interpretation, so this could represent a person with an invisible impairment or it could be an able-bodied person supporting team GB – as you say. Next time we’d like to be clearer with our invisible impairment emoji, but found it hard to create with graphics. Let us know if you think of any ideas! Thanks.

  9. Most of them are of a paralympic theme which is great but sport isn’t the only thing to inspire to.
    Using emojis are suppose to be a fun way to express emotions feelings or what u are up to. What about more fun, silly and humorous emojis…

  10. I get that you’re doing this in answer to the recent Olympics emojis, but is it possible to represent disability positively in any way other than the Paralympics? I know a lot of disabled people who make great role models in business, the arts, raising families etc but time and time again it seems the only way that we can be presented positively is if we are sports people. I think for the conversation to change we need to change how disabled people are represented, celebrating both the every day achievements and the exceptional beyond the prism of sports.

    1. Hi Dan, we agree. We’ve included a mix of paralympics emojis and emojis of disabled people doing everyday things.

  11. How about a person using a walker? And be sure to include someone who is missing an arm or hand. Great great project!

  12. My daughter and songteksten are play ongeveer wheelchairhockey. I love it to sees the emoji.

  13. Thanks for the emojis Scope! If you’re taking suggestions I would like to see one with a person using a white cane (for visual impairment).

  14. I think this is a fun idea. But it reminds me of the endless discussions in the 70s: are we disabled or handicapped or differently abled or differently gifted? I’m Linda. I can live without an emoji representing my disability or whatever you wish to term it.

  15. Can we have a bit more varation on the deaf emoji. Not all deaf people use sign language some even speak. How about one with a cochlear implant and or hearing aid. Thanks

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