New range of emojis include hearing aid, wheelchair user and more

Love them or hate them, emojis are part of the way we communicate in the 21st Century.

So it’s important that we have a handy little symbol for as many ideas as possible.

Now that we’re becoming a more inclusive society, a wide range of ethnic groups and disabilities are finding their way into the ever-growing pictorial language of emojis.

iPhones users will soon be able to share little cartoon images of – among other things – a person using a wheelchair, a guide dog, a hearing aid, a prosthetic leg and a "bionic" arm.

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“Celebrating diversity in all its many forms is integral to Apple’s values and these new options help fill a significant gap in the emoji keyboard,” the company said, as they revealed the new emoji for of World Emoji day this week.

Cyndi Zagieboylo, president of America’s National Multiple Sclerosis Society told NBC: “Representation matters and for those living with MS, some of whom have visible disabilities, this is an important way for them to feel included and seen.”

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Japanese artist Shigetaka Kurita created the first emoji back in 1999. His idea was to find a way to pack more information into the 250 character text message system of early mobile phones.

But since then they’ve gone from strength to strength.

While some, especially older, people fear that the increasing prevalence of emoji is a step backwards towards a basic hieroglyphic type of language, many linguists and educators see them as a way of enriching, not replacing our existing written language.

Linguist Neil Cohn says that their increasing popularity serves as a reminder that there is a lot more to our communication than words alone and Charlotte Hodgson, an English teacher at Avonbourne College in Bournemouth told the Times Educational Supplement: "I've just taught A Midsummer Night's Dream and, when we've read a bit of the scene, they summarise it in two main emojis and then have to explain it,"

Luca Kuhlman, a modern foreign languages teacher at a Stockton secondary school, adds that emoji are particularly useful for students using English as a second language.

  • iPhone
  • Students

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