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Accessibility News

Apple unveils new disability-themed emojis

In celebration of World Emoji Day 2019, Apple announced it will release a package of new emojis in fall 2019. Many of the new emojis focus on inclusivity and feature people with disabilities. According to Apple, “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.” Emojis in four main categories: blind and low vision, deaf and hard of hearing, physical motor disabilities and hidden disabilities are included in the new set.

disability-themed emoji

A preview of four disability-themed emoji.

How do screen readers announce emojis?

A screen reader is assistive technology that will "read" (speak) the content of a web page or digital document to a blind or low vision user. For Apple devices, the built-in screen reader is called VoiceOver.  PC users may choose to use the free screen reader NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) or purchase the robust JAWS (Job Access With Speech).

When a screen reader reads a message with an emoji, a description of the emoji is read out loud. An article on The Perkins School for the Blind website shares revealing information about how screen readers announce emojis and offers best practices for using them on social media platforms and text messages.


Get Ready for the fall 2019 semester with our Accessible Syllabus

As you begin to prepare your syllabi for the fall 2019 semester, we encourage you to download our accessible syllabus (in Word or Google doc format) to ensure your information is available to all members of our community. Review an example syllabus to get an idea of how you can add your own information to the template.

Tip of the Month

Use readable fonts in your digital content

Everyone benefits when easily read fonts are used in digital content. Consider the use of fonts that are simple, sans-serif, and found by default on all platforms.

For web pages, standard fonts such as Arial, Helvetica, Lucida Sans, Tahoma, and Verdana are recommended. For digital documents, consider the use of Arial or Times New Roman. These fonts allow for easier visibility and will display better on different devices.

examples of fonts: Arial, Lucida Sans, Tahoma, Times New Roman, Verdana

While an individual is able to use their browser's built-in full-page zoom functionality (which zooms all content in equal proportion), it is best practice to ensure your site design can accommodate these changes without significantly altering the readability.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 success criterion 1.4.4: Resize text states that “Except for captions and images of text, text can be resized without assistive technology up to 200 percent without loss of content or functionality.”

The intent of this Success Criterion is to ensure that visually rendered text, including text-based controls, can be scaled successfully so that it can be read directly by people with mild visual disabilities, without requiring the use of assistive technology such as a screen magnifier.

Use the methods in our Testing Protocol to determine if your website is in compliance.

Learn more about font usage in WebAIM’s article on Fonts.

Resources and Training