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Move to promote inclusion or mere gimmick? Disability-themed emojis for 2019 get mixed reviews

February 11, 2019

Love them or hate them, but emojis are an integral part of social media and our daily lives. Pretty much every emotion and state of mind has an emoji, barring people with disabilities who have not been so well represented.

Well, 2019 will change that with new emojis, many centred around disability, to be launched in the middle of the year. From accessibility-themed icons and hearing aids, to wheelchairs, guide dogs, and prosthetic limbs, they are quite varies and representative.

So, how does India's disabled community feel about this launch? NewzHook asked some of our readers, who are active on social media.

Amar Jain, the well-known disability rights advocate, says the introduction of so many varied emojis on the theme of disability is a good move as it will foster inclusive dialogue.

It would also have a great impact on people, especially young minds but they must be positive and dignified manner. That is going to be something that we need to look up to. A couple of months back, Lego toys were introduced with the toys on wheelchairs etc. This was a great initiative. Such emojis, I believe, would highlight the accessibility needs of disabled people. -Amar Jain, Lawyer & disability rights advocate

The emojis will also show disabled people of different ethnicities as well. High time given that one in seven people in the world have some kind of disability. Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Facebook, Twitter and Android have agreed to introduce the new emojis according to their own choices and style.

However, para swimmer Justin Jesudas has a mixed response to the launch. "It creates some sort of awareness about people with disabilities. Other than that, I do not understand why such emojis must be introduced. I have been using emojis for the past many years and I certainly did not miss these particular", he says.

Wheelchair user and beauty pageant winner Priya Bhargava is also against the introduction of these new emojis. Her argument is that they differentiate between people.

"On one hand, we talk about no discrimination, no racism and equality. Whereas, on the other hand we try and create these emojis to differentiate between people. We must look towards training specially abled people professionally, rather than creating such things that are not going to be of any help. I just do not get where the inclusion lies here? Inclusion must be in behaviours, feelings, jobs, infrastructure and culture", she says.

All compelling arguments that make a strong case. Perhaps what needs to be celebrated is the fact that this move brings inclusion into the mainstream/

ALSO READ: Access Earth app aims to revolutionise hotel stays for people with disabilities

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