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Accessibility Toolkit for Open Educational Resources (OER): Emoji Accessibility

Accessibility guide for creating OER

General Info on Emoji

  • Emoji are graphical symbols that appear in many aspects of our lives.
  • Emojis are engrained into the fabric of the internet and social media.
  • Emoji can easily be found on social media, in text messages and sometimes they even show up on the TV.
  • Emoji meaning can be understood differently across cultures.
    • Interpretation can depend on the reader’s background, an emoji might mean something to them that you did not intend. This can change the meaning of your message and could cause confusion.
  • Don't stop using emoji, just make sure to create them so they are accessible and use them accessibly..

Accessibility Info on Emoji

How to create accessible emoji

  • Avoid typing several emoji in a row as that can be annoying to users of screen readers
  • Never use emojis to replace words as it will make your content inaccessible.
    • You cannot be sure people will interpret the emoji as you intended.
    • The alt text descriptions used by screen readers may not match your meaning of the emoji.
    • Using emoji instead of words, increases cognitive load for everyone.
  • Be aware, how emojis are presented depends on the device and operating system, so check to make sure they translate well across devices..
  • Limit to 3 emoji in a row.
    • This also applies to usernames. If someone has a bunch of emoji in their name, a screen reader will read all of it.
  • If you can, don't place emoji in the middle of words, since it affects how they are read by screen readers
    • Example: the singer Kesha’s stage name was pronounced Key-dollar-sign-ha since the “S” in her name was replaced with a “$.”
  • Don’t use emojis as bullet points:
    • Screen readers read each emoji’s alt text aloud. This makes it longer to read the list and risks muddling clarity.
  • No more than 3 emojis per social media post:
    • Excessive emojis can be disruptive and confusing for users using screen readers.
  • Use emojis, not emoticons.
    • Emojis have built-in alt text descriptions and will be parsed as text by a screen reader.
    • Emoticons are manipulated punctuation marks and will be read out as punctuation marks.


Citation: [Bogdan] (2020, Jul 30) Testing emojis with screen-reader - please use emoji icons sparely, they add a lot of "noise". (0:29) URL:


Emoji Pro Tips