Thursday, February 7th By: Emily Morris
Emojis have become the wave or head nod of 2019, a simple way to acknowledge someone or add a bit of flare to conversation. Unicode Consortium, the supervisors of textable images, is striving to expand the meaning emojis can hold by increasing the diversity of emojis with 230 new designs, including disability themed images—prosthetic limbs, wheel chairs, and motorized chairs—images relating to the Deaf community, various animals, a drop of blood, and a yawning face. Sometime in March our phones will get the next option to update to jazz up our digital conversation.
Despite the availability of expressing yourself with just one click of a button seeming like an amazing advancement, there are still steps being made to ensure inclusivity. Emojis date back to 1995, but cultural variations have just begun to enter the scene (Unicode). “Skin-tone support was added to the Unicode Standard in 2015, and it increased representation of women in 2016, became gender inclusive in 2017 and added new hair colors in 2018,” according to USA Today.
Not only does the internet have a greater opportunity to culturally inclusive towards disabled people, the Deaf community, and even various hair colors, one organization is also using the blood drop emoji to normalize menstruation. Plan International UK advocated for the drop of blood emoji, receiving roughly 55,000 in favor responses before the keyboard’s release. Since the release announcement, Plan International UK has begun using the drop emoji in a multitude of their social media posts.
Digital communication is globally at our fingertips constantly so it seems only fitting that emojis would give meaning to our conversational topics. Not every new image holds the ability for social change, but they will surely be spread across social media in March. The emoji count will now be 3,053 with plans to grow in years to come (USA Today).