Can You Actually Use Emojis?

4 min read

One of Frequently Asked Questions I get, is about ‘can you read emojis and how you use them in general?’. Luckily emojis is way more accessible than images on the web, which makes it possible for blind people read&send emojis and don’t feel excluded from something what is primary based on visual aspects.


People often think that emojis is inaccessible because it’s so visual. It maybe sounds logical, but is wrong in this context. If you chatting with someone who is blind and wonder do the person actually can receive or interact with emojis? Short answer is yes.

It’s actually very straight forward, since emoji is a part of a message already, it acts like regular letter or symbol. When VO is turned on your device, tekst Speech synthesis will read it together with words and sentences. What is great about emojis, that each emoji has own labeled name, Therefor it makes pretty easy to browse in different categories and get sense of what they mean. If you from time to time have difficulty to get sense of what some emoji stand for, you can simply turn on VO and get accurate description of emoji you interact with. What’s fine about this method, instead just searching on internet for emoji descriptions. In case you are not native English speaker and would rather to hear names of emojis in your language, VO does it automatically based on your iPhone system language. Not so long time ago, I searched for some emojis and in article was written wrong name of emoji. So if you want to be sure to get the correct name of emoji, VO is here to help you.

One comic consequence if your system language set to English, and you come across text which is written in foreign language, VO will switch automatically switch to detected language if you have this feature enabled, but if there are emojis in text too, VO will continue to read them in language based on your system preferences. So it can be and peculiar reading experience.

When Do I Use Emojis?

I struggled to find use case for emoji except occasionally send them here and there in message conversations. Since VO reads name of emojis, I started to use them to name music playlist, notes folders and just when I need to label something, but empty for naming ideas. I simply browse thru emoji categories and pick Emoji which sounds creative and more or less makes sense of context where I about to add them.

Speed Up Process in Daily Workflow

However one drawback of emoji that it can take time to find one, specially if you don’t have hardware keyboard nearby and struggle to remember which category it belongs to. My work around is using Apple’s built in text replacement which makes it a little quicker to paste emojis while I typing. So for example if I type ‘,rofl’ and it will automatically converts it into ?. This way I can reserve me from frustration finding that specific emoji which I may don’t use so often or not remember name for. In my example above I used abbreviation comma combined with name of emoji, but you can use whatever you want.

Third-Party Solutions

What is great about macOS software ecosystem, that it offers a lot of handy utilities for different use cases. Excellent emoji utility Rocket takes it on another level. Instead for manually add your emojis in built in text replacement, you can type colon ‘:’ and following with few keystrokes of emoji name you searching after. If you you get multiple results, you can browse them with arrow keys and hit enter when you find one you looked after. It works everywhere you can type, but if in some apps you don’t need this shortcut, you can disable it in apps where it makes little sense to use emoji in this particular application. Also in settings you can choose if you want to automatically save emoji to the system clipboard. It can be useful if you need to insert same emoji other places right away and speed up your workflow.

Can Still Be Improved

although Emojis is very accessible and a big part of modern, everyday communication online nowadays, it needs changes in more or less. For example when you try to send Emoji via Siri, she understands only basic like ordinary smiley and it feels limited, specially today when each year we get additional Emojis in several categories.

Another thought came to me, what about take Emojis to the next level and make ‘Emoji Sets’? Now we have Emojis which covering specific area or context, but what about if it was added Emoji groups which represents several activities at once and feels more natural to how we communicate on a daily basis.

You can sort of simulate it by manually creating own pre saved sets in text expansion by paste several emojis which may not many of your conversational partners will understand, since it was based on your own taste and opinion. As I said, it totally possible to do it, but not an elegant method at all.

So as you can read, emoji is an incredibly accessible tool for blind users which open doors to be a part of emoji society and don’t be excluded because of your disabilities. It can be fun way to add pleasant atmosphere in your conversation or put it somewhere you glance often at and want to make this area to be more refreshing!