Scope's Blog

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

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

“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’

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

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.