A gaggle of new emoji have just been approved by the Unicode Consortium, meaning they’ll be standard across any platforms that choose to support them. This batch includes some much-needed representation for people with various disabilities, new animals from guide dogs to otters, food and many more objects.
Folks with disabilities get a nice variety of new emoji, though of course these aren’t exhaustive (for example, how do you represent a learning disability or mental illness?). Still, Apple’s proposal for the new emoji points out the necessity of, for example, having both mechanical and manual wheelchairs:
The type of assistive technology that is used by individuals is very personal and mandated by their own disability need. For someone who cannot self-propel and therefore uses an electric wheelchair, it would not be realistic to only show a manual chair. For those who can use a manual version, it would not be realistic to insinuate that they have less mobility than they do. Therefore, these should be seen as two totally separate forms of assistive device.
These images, as usual, are only samples; the final emoji that will be used depend on your device or service. However, since Apple proposed these ones and they are of course a popular platform for emoji use, you can probably expect these to be very like the final ones.
There are lots of other useful things added as well. Guide and service dogs; otters and flamingos; some tasty food like waffles and butter (my breakfast can now finally be represented accurately); and some items particularly relevant to Indian users — a sari, diya lamp, and tuk-tuk.
Adding support for people of different colors and genders, including non-gendered imagery, has been an ongoing process for the last few years. The latest addition is a pair of non-gendered people holding hands, with the full set of color variations. Expect more along these lines; other proposals have been made but haven’t yet been finalized.
You can browse the full list of new emoji here; expect them to be added to your favorite messaging app after a handful of months once art and code updates are final.