One of the exciting parts of the new iOS 13.2 update is that there are now emoji for visual impairment and many other disabilities. Personally, I’m excited to see images of assistive technology being included in the emoji keyboard so people can add it to their text message conversations and social media, and have been excited about the blind girl emoji since it was announced last year. Here are my tips for finding the new visual impairment and other disability/accessibility emoji in iOS 13.2.
What is an emoji?
An emoji (pronounced e-moh-gee) is “a small digital image or icon to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communication.” While they have been around since 1998, they have become extremely popular in this last decade. Emoji can easily be found on social media, in text messages, and even in advertisements. Some common examples of emoji include a smiley face, face with heart eyes, fire, and airplane. There are thousands of different emoji available with new additions every few months.
Wait, people with visual impairments use emoji?
Yes! Many people with blindness and low vision use screen readers or text-to-speech to interpret information on the screen and can access the emoji keyboard with their screen reader. When reading a message with an emoji, a description of the emoji is read out loud. So if my friend texts me a yellow heart, then the message will read “yellow heart.” But if my friend texts me five cake emoji, my screen reader will read “cake cake cake cake cake.”
- How To Use VoiceOver For Beginners
- How To Make iPad Accessible for Low Vision
- Low Vision Accessibility Settings For Android Phones
What are the new emoji?
Emoji for visual impairment and image descriptions
- Blindness cane- a white blindness cane with a red segment on the bottom and a marshmallow tip
- Person using a blindness cane- available with male, female, and gender neutral options in several skin tones
- Guide dog- yellow lab with harness
Emoji for other disabilities/accessibility tools and image descriptions
- Person using electric wheelchair- available with male, female, and gender neutral options in several skin tones
- Prosthetic arm- a silver colored arm in the flexing position
- Prosthetic leg- an above-knee prosthetic leg bent at the knee wearing a red shoe
- Hearing aid on ear- available in several skin tones
- Person using sign language- available with male, female, and gender neutral options in several skin tones
- Person using manual wheelchair- user has hands on wheels and is available as with male, female, and gender neutral options in several skin tones
- Manual wheelchair- long wheelchair with large wheels, similar to common everyday wheelchairs
- Electric wheelchair- Black and red electric wheelchair with a headrest that appears to be controlled by a joystick
- Service dog- black curly-haired dog with a red vest walking on a turquoise leash
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How to add the Emoji keyboard
To add the emoji keyboard:
- Open the General menu within Settings
- Select the Keyboard sub menu
- Tap Keyboards at the top of the menu
- Select “add new keyboard”
- Scroll through the list until you see the Emoji keyboard, and tap that option
- Switch to the emoji keyboard by clicking the keyboard switch icon next to the spacebar and under the letter Z
Can you make the Emoji keyboard bigger on iOS?
As of publishing time, there is no way to make the emoji keyboard larger in any version of iOS. Many people prefer to use the double-tap Zoom feature to magnify the keyboard, which can be activated using the following steps:
- Open the Accessibility menu within settings
- Under the Vision submenu, open Zoom
- Enable the Zoom option
How to use Zoom
- Double tap with three fingers anywhere on the screen
- Drag three fingers across the screen to adjust the focus window
- Double tap with three fingers to change Zoom settings or disable the feature
Where to find the new accessibility emoji
Visual impairment emoji
- Blindness cane- in the travel/places section, next to the fire truck and underneath the construction vehicle
- Person using a blindness cane- in the smileys/people section, next to the fire truck and underneath the person walking
- Guide dog- in the animals/nature section, next to the llama and underneath the poodle
Other accessibility emoji
- Person using electric wheelchair- in the smileys/people section, underneath the people with bunny ears emoji
- Prosthetic arm- In the smileys/people section, underneath the flexing arm and next to the hand with five fingers
- Prosthetic leg- In the smileys/people section, underneath the leg emoji and next to the middle finger
- Hearing aid on ear- In the smileys/people section, next to the lipstick kiss and underneath the ear
- Person using sign language- In the smileys/people section, next to the arms above head
- Person using manual wheelchair- In the smileys/people section, next to the dancing person and underneath the man in business suit levitating
- Manual wheelchair- In the travel/places emoji, next to the white vehicle and underneath the blindness cane
- Electric wheelchair- In the travel/places emoji, next to the delivery truck emoji
- Service dog- In the animals/nature section, next to the goat and underneath the guide dog
- Ten Things To Know About Going To College With A Blindness Cane
- How I Use My Phone For Orientation and Mobility
How I plan to use the accessibility emoji
- I already put the emoji of the girl using a blindness cane in my Twitter bio, and have been using this emoji to find other visually impaired Twitter users
- I plan to put in texts to remind my friends to bring their cane to class
- Adding emoji to messages and social media posts when appropriate and relevant.
I love seeing accessibility themed emoji being included in the emoji keyboard, and I’m glad that these emoji are now available for all who wish to use them. In the future, I would love to see emoji be expanded to include more smileys/people with glasses, different colors of guide dogs, reading Braille, communication devices, and even forearm crutches. The future is accessible, and I’m excited to see that my emoji agree!