7 Best Practices to Improve Emoji Accessibility on the Web

Emojis are ceaselessly known as the universal language, or lingua franca, of the 21st century. They assist break down boundaries between folks from completely different cultures and languages (they usually’re good enjoyable). Nevertheless, accessibility consultants level out some important issues associated to emoji accessibility, and localization consultants share their concerns.

On this article, we’ll look into emoji accessibility and see how internet designers and content material creators can forestall the commonest points.

Who’s Affected by Emoji Accessibility Points?

Total, emoji accessibility is a side of website accessibility that’s missed. If used with out care, emojis could make it more durable to entry and perceive internet content material for:

Now, let’s see the accessibility points the aforementioned teams encounter and how one can mitigate them.

Bounce to our emoji accessibility ideas:

1. Don’t Overuse Emojis

As display readers and text-to-speech tools learn the built-in alt text of emojis aloud, overusing them can overwhelm individuals who depend on these assistive applied sciences.

As a rule of thumb, don’t add greater than three emojis after one another and solely add a brand new one if it carries further info. For instance, including three several types of laughing emojis (e.g. 😃😆😄) harms the person expertise for individuals who entry your web site with a display reader or text-to-speech instrument.

2. Resort to the Default Yellow Smileys and Hand Gestures

For a similar purpose talked about above, attempt to use the default yellow smileys and hand gestures, except pores and skin tone provides further which means to your message.

The default smileys all the time have a shorter alt description than the modified ones — for instance: waving hand signal vs. medium-light pores and skin tone waving hand signal.

Whereas utilizing pores and skin tones can add vital info to the emoji, pores and skin tone emojis make text-based content material longer, which might grow to be overwhelming for individuals who entry internet content material with display readers and text-to-speech instruments, particularly when they’re overused — e.g. in the event you add multiple or all of the pores and skin tones of the identical emoji like 👋👋🏻👋🏽👋🏾👋🏿.

3. Keep away from Utilizing Emoticons

Emoticons are just like emojis as they intend to precise emotion in textual content material. They encompass a gaggle of letters, punctuation marks, and/or numbers which when positioned subsequent to one another kind of seem like a facial features (e.g. :-) for smiling) or categorical an emotion (e.g. <3 for a coronary heart or ¯_(ツ)_/¯ for a shrug).

Nevertheless, in contrast to emojis, emoticons don’t have a built-in alt textual content, so display readers and text-to-speech instruments listing the characters after one another when studying them aloud — e.g. “colon hyphen proper spherical bracket” for the smiling emoticon.

To enhance emoji accessibility, all the time use emojis as a substitute of emoticons except they aren’t accessible (e.g. in older e-mail purchasers).

4. Take a look at Your Emojis in Completely different Shade Modes

By default, emojis are designed for mild mode, nonetheless folks with several types of vision impairments ceaselessly browse the online utilizing darkish or excessive distinction mode.

As well as, darkish mode can also be usually utilized by common internet customers, particularly when you’ve got added a theme switcher to your web site or utility. Nevertheless, even in the event you don’t have a theme or darkish mode switcher, it’s nonetheless advisable that you just check the emojis you utilize in your content material or design for darkish and excessive distinction modes, as folks ceaselessly set these accessibility modes from their working system.

Beneath is an instance of what some emojis seem like in darkish mode in Twitter’s submit editor (set from the working system as that is how most individuals with imaginative and prescient impairments use their computer systems, nonetheless the emojis look the identical after we set Twitter’s personal darkish or dim mode in its internet interface).

As you’ll be able to see, some emojis are barely seen, and the difficulty turns into much more apparent when they’re in comparison with emojis that also have excessive visibility in darkish mode (that is additionally a great instance of why it’s a good suggestion to make use of the default yellow emojis in the event you can):

Visible versus almost invisible emojis in dark mode on TwitterVisible versus almost invisible emojis in dark mode on TwitterVisible versus almost invisible emojis in dark mode on Twitter

Listed below are the identical emojis in excessive distinction mode (additionally set system-wide) — because the screenshot above exhibits, they pose the identical invisibility subject as in darkish mode:

Visible versus almost invisible emojis in high contrast mode on TwitterVisible versus almost invisible emojis in high contrast mode on TwitterVisible versus almost invisible emojis in high contrast mode on Twitter

For reference, right here’s what the identical emojis seem like in mild mode — as you’ll be able to see, the emojis which are barely seen in darkish and excessive distinction modes are extremely seen in mild mode (nonetheless, among the yellow emojis grow to be much less seen, e.g. the hand gesture on the finish):

Visible versus also visible emojis in light mode on TwiterVisible versus also visible emojis in light mode on TwiterVisible versus also visible emojis in light mode on Twiter

You possibly can additional enhance emoji accessibility in the event you select an emoji design that provides a top level view across the emojis, as emojis with a darkish define have larger visibility in mild mode (whereas in darkish and excessive distinction modes, the outlines are barely seen):

Emojis with dark outline, some examplesEmojis with dark outline, some examplesEmojis with dark outline, some examples
Picture credit score: Emojipedia.org

You may as well shortly verify the visibility of your emojis utilizing the colour blindness emulator of Chrome DevTools (you are able to do it in just 4 clicks).

5. Keep away from Utilizing Animated Emojis

Whereas animated emojis should not the norm, they do exist and might trigger points for folks with vestibular problems who might expertise dizziness, complications, nausea, and seizures when taking a look at extreme or irregular movement on the display for an extended time period.

Usually talking, the identical guidelines apply to animated emojis as to animation accessibility overall — keep away from utilizing them except they carry particular which means. Even if you wish to add them to your design or content material, don’t overuse them as a result of a number of animated emojis subsequent to one another, doubtlessly every shifting at a unique velocity, can hurt person expertise even for non-disabled viewers.

6. Don’t Use Emojis to Convey That means

Much like color in web design, it’s not advisable that you just solely depend on emojis to ship a message, as your meant viewers received’t essentially be capable of devour them. Emojis generally is a good addition and improve your textual content with further which means, however they shouldn’t be used as a main technique of communication.

In different phrases, keep away from utilizing emojis to switch purposeful phrases in sentences — for instance, this isn’t an accessible message: your 🏠 is on 🔥, 📞 the 🚒. Folks don’t all the time learn for enjoyable, textual content material will also be vital and pressing, thus following the most effective practices of emoji accessibility can typically save lives.

Inconsistently used emojis additionally hurt readability and might pose points for folks with cognitive disabilities as a result of it’s going to take them extra time to navigate and perceive your content material.

7. Assume About Whether or not Your Emojis Must Be “Translated”

You probably have a multilingual web site, you additionally want to consider whether or not the emojis you utilize in your content material or design have to be localized.

Translated content material shouldn’t be the identical as authentic content material written for a selected tradition, language, and viewers as a result of textual content and design have many different features past grammar and phrases. Whereas total, emojis represent a common language, typically they will imply various things to folks from completely different cultures.

Emoji localization may be laborious in the event you don’t know each languages you translate between effectively, not simply at a linguistic but in addition at a cultural stage.

This Online Social Networks and Media study (2021) lists a number of examples of how emojis are used and meant otherwise in numerous international locations and languages, however as a rule of thumb, deal with emojis as every other a part of a language, and don’t overlook to localize them for a wider cultural context. This implies that you could be want to make use of a unique emoji to precise the identical sentiment or which means in one other language.


Emoji accessibility is an often-overlooked side of web site accessibility that impacts a number of customers with or with out disabilities — together with folks with imaginative and prescient, vestibular, and cognitive impairments; the customers of darkish and excessive distinction modes, display readers, and text-to-speech instruments; and the worldwide viewers of multilingual web sites and functions.

On this article, we seemed into seven greatest practices that internet designers, builders, and content material creators can use to enhance emoji accessibility.

Whereas there’s undoubtedly a trade-off between design, aesthetics, and the enjoyable issue of emojis versus emoji accessibility, it’s nonetheless price contemplating the problems above and implementing some or all the greatest practices as a result of they’re comparatively simple methods to assist your guests to entry, use, and perceive your design and the content material you publish in your web site.

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