Emoji are graphical symbols that appear in many aspects of our lives. Worldwide, around 36 million people are blind and 217 million have a moderate to severe visual impairment. This portion of the population may use and encounter emoji, yet it is unclear what accessibility challenges emoji introduce. We first conducted an online survey with 58 visually impaired participants to understand how they use and encounter emoji online, and the challenges they experience. We then conducted 11 interviews with screen reader users to understand more about the challenges reported in our survey findings. Our interview findings demonstrate that technology is both an enabler and a barrier, emoji descriptors can hinder communication, and therefore the use of emoji impacts social interaction. Using our findings from both studies, we propose best practice when using emoji and recommendations to improve the future accessibility of emoji for visually impaired people.
CHI 2020 Presentation Recording