The new emojis which are displaying hearing aids and a person signing are finally out, alongside many other emojis.
But are they truly accurate? And do they really represent d/Deaf people? Because it’s one thing to display hearing aids and a person signing, it’s another to make sure that they are accurate and it represents all d/Deaf and hard of hearing people.
But I’m not sure if it does.
Listen to the podcast…:
… or read the transcripts below to learn more about my thoughts around this news.
Announcer: This is the Hear Me Out! [CC] Podcast, a place to hear stories from the d/Deaf and hard of hearing people and from your host, Ahmed Khalifa.
Ahmed: The hearing aid emoji has finally arrived. That’s right, emoji.
And according to the Emojipedia, and yes that does exist, the Emojipedia, It’s finally out.
And it has been talked about for about six months now and Apple has first announced that it wants to make the Emoji Dictionary/Emojipedia, make it more diverse. Make it more inclusive and represent people in different disabilities, as well.
So, that means not just about the hearing aid but we’re also going to see emoji of a person with a guide dog, with wheel chair, which is either manual or motorised, and with a stick to represent blind people.
All of these things are going to be included in your Apple and soon to be Android, as well.
It’s coming out, so we have these hearing aid emoji and the sign for deaf, as well. Which is good, isn’t it? It’s not something that, to be honest, I sort of needed or wanted to use. It’s not something that I thought I wish I have but now that I think about it, I might just use it.
And I think it makes sense, it makes sense having it. Make it representing people, have a kind of self expression, and whether you like it or not, emojis are here to stay. And people use them to express themselves and to communicate.
And it’s [emoji] a universal language, isn’t it?
So, it’s great. It’s here. But there’s a few things that I’m kind of not too sure about in terms of both the hearing aid and the deaf sign, as well.
So, with the hearing aid, first of all, it’s complicated because there are different types of hearing aids.
And sometimes you want to make sure that people know that because I still see people using those stock photos of hearing aid, that looks like it’s some kind of brick on their ear or something. It’s so weird!
They think that’s what represents the hearing aids that we have today. And even I see in news articles they use those old-fashioned stock photo with an elderly person with a hearing aid which is literally massive.
It’s just so big on the ear and it fails to recognise the fact that technology has changed. Technology has gotten better and that is not what is representing here today.
And I think to some extent, the emoji does not fully represent that but I think it’s quite difficult because it’s going to be kind of trying to have one side fit all because they didn’t think of having too much emoji. Isn’t that?
Because here’s another thing that I’m trying to think of is, I’m all for having different representation but want to make it easy also to find these emojis.
When you go to your phone, you go to your keyboard and you are to find them. It needs to be easy.
And the more you have, the more difficult it is to find them and if not categorised correctly, then that’s going to make it complicated, as well.
So, I hope they take that into consideration because it’s easy enough to change the skin tone colour because you just hold it down and you can change the skin tone to the one that you want to use. Great.
But, then you want to make sure that’s easy to find, as well. Nothing is a worry because, let’s face it, it’s going to increase. The number of emojis will increase, in my opinion.
The other thing, as well, which is not a hearing aid, it’s completely separate, is not there yet but I imagine the Cochlear Implant will be there eventually because that’s a separate thing.
That’s a different type of technology and also to make people aware of what they are. Because you do still do see people thinking, “Oh, gosh, what is that?”
But it’s a normal thing to have and people do use them and wear them. So that’s not in the Emojipedia, I assume, yet. I imagine it’s going to come out in the future but again, it’s time to make sure that it’s fully representative of what the deaf and hard of hearing people look like. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, isn’t it?
But the Cochlear Implant implant is not there yet. And speaking of making sure that we are representing the deaf people correctly. The fact that they have a sign for deaf.
First of all, it’s great. It’s a nice way to add another language to the Emojipedia. It’s quite a nice way to have it there and they did put in the sign for I love you, which is actually ASL, American Sign Language, where you do the sign for I love you.
Some people use it for that, some people use it for other reasons. But you should know that is already there but now we have a sign for deaf. Or do we?
Because what seems like a word that to sign for deaf is actually for ASL and the best way I can describe it is when you point to your ear, either once or twice, you tap your ear and that’s a sign for deaf. That’s how you say deaf in sign language and you emoji it, as well. That’s it.
The thing is though, in British Sign Language, it’s actually two fingers to the ear or tap your ear with two fingers. Not one finger. It’s actually in one finger in BSL, it can also be interpreted as hearing. So, It’s a bit confusing now.
So wait a second, am I going to use this emoji as a way to say deaf or hearing? Because that’s where it’s confusing. It’s supposed to be representing deaf people but does it really represent deaf people?
Because it seems to, at the moment, as far as I’m aware, represent those who speaks ASL.
Now I don’t know about other sign language. I would love for you to know, to let me know, what does that sign mean in other sign languages, across the world, as well. I’d love to know because it can’t just be BSL.
Maybe other countries have the same sign that means something different, as well.
And maybe other countries also use that sign for deaf, just like ASL.
Again, I’m intrigued to know. The thing is though, if it’s supposed to be representing deaf people, I don’t feel like it doesn’t fully do that. It does touch upon it but it doesn’t really teach people a lot of things, especially those who are not deaf.
Especially those who are not really speaking sign language. They don’t know that. Do they? Do they know that if could be meaning one thing in one country and possibly mean another thing in another country?
So that’s why I’m a bit confused about this. I haven’t seen it yet because I’ve got an android phone. It’s not there just yet, at the time of recording but I have seen pictures of what it looks like online and it’s just confused me because I’m someone who’s learning BSL but I’m pretty sure that is not the sign for deaf.
So, someone, correct me if I’m wrong, but I just don’t feel like it’s going to be representing every deaf person. I think that’s going to be difficult anyway for any emoji anyway. It’s hard to kind of get an emoji to represent everyone because everyone is different.
And I get that but I’m just worried that it’s not going to mislead people the wrong way, especially if I and many other people, want to educate and teach people about deaf awareness at home.
What do you think? Am I overthinking it? Am I thinking too much in terms of being worried about it? I’m not really worried about it. It’s just….something that’s on my mind.
But am I overthinking it or am I not? Do you agree with me? Do you not?
Let me know in a comment. I would love to hear your thought. If you seen it, what do you think?
And if you haven’t, but you seen it online, what do you think? Let me know in a comment. I love to hear you. I love to hear your thoughts and it be great to know what you think about it, as well.
And of course, while we’re at it, make sure you leave a review on iTune. I’d really appreciate it if you could do that. It really would mean a lot to me on what you think about the Hear Me Out [CC] Podcast.
In the meantime, I will speak to you again soon.
- The power of non-verbal communication & how deaf people depends on it - August 5, 2020
- My personal viewpoint on the definition of deaf* - July 30, 2020
- Hearing privilege: What is it and why it’s important to acknowledge them? - July 23, 2020