2019’s new emoji bring representation and accessibility

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The Unicode Consortium released the list of new emoji for 2019, responding to requests for inclusivity. New emoji include more varied gender and race representation, as well as representation of people with disabilities.

When Apple released 70 new emoji in October, it said it was working with Unicode to “add more disability-themed emoji to the keyboard for Unicode 12.0,” and it seems that collaboration has paid off. Unicode announced 59 completely new emoji on Tuesday, and among them were a deaf person, a mechanical leg, a man using a probing cane and a woman using a probing cane, and other things related to accessibility. Responding to a person using a wheelchair as a top request in 2018, Unicode created new emoji both for people using a manual wheelchair and a motorized wheelchair.

Besides the 59 new emoji, Unicode also released 171 options for gender and skin tone in various emoji. Mixed skin tones are now available for the men holding hands and women holding hands emoji, with over a dozen combinations. Mixed skin tones are also available for a new gender-neutral couple holding-hands emoji Unicode introduced simply called “people holding hands.”

Many people were happy to see the increasing representation in the emoji keyboard, making it so they can finally represent themselves and their lives accurately in the ideograms that make up a significant part of online communication.

Still, there were some disappointments. Among the most requested symbols in 2018 was the transgender flag, which was not added.

Other emoji not related to inclusivity were also added, such as sloth, a yawning face, a ringed planet, and a pinching hand. The pinching hand quickly became a Twitter favorite for its many potential uses.

The wait for people to put these emoji to use won’t be too long, as Unicode 12.0 will be released on March 5.

Alex Dalbey

Alex Dalbey

Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They have written for The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, The Lingerie Addict, and Bullet Points.