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Disability Advocates Petition Facebook, Bitmoji for Inclusive Avatars

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Happening now: Disability advocates are circulating a Change.org petition urging Facebook and Bitmoji to add disability-inclusive features to each company’s popular avatar creator that allows users to create a cartoon version of their likeness for use on social media.

  • The petition was created by Caitlin Goerlich after realizing she couldn’t add a wheelchair to her Bitmoji — there wasn’t an option. Also missing are options for hearing aids, service dogs, prosthetic limbs, feeding tubes, and more.
  • Facebook recently unveiled its version of a social media avatar, which is also missing disability-inclusive features.

The Frontlines: Including people with disabilities is important in all aspects of life, whether it’s on TV, in creating accessible spaces and, yes, a customized avatar that can be used on social media.

  • The United Nations estimated that 1 billion people live with a disability around the world, approximately one in four Americans.
  • Disability representation It can help open doors for people with disabilities in the real world, including job and education opportunities, access to health care, and every other facet of daily life.

I was upset because in reality, my Bitmoji is not a true representation of who I am if there is no wheelchair. — Caitlin Goerlich

We’ve been here before: Previously, advocates worked to add more disability-related emojis to the Unicode keyboard. In 2018, Apple announced it worked with several disability nonprofits to develop 13 new emojis, which were made available in late 2019.

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A Mighty voice: Our contributor, Jess Marion, explained why disability representation on digital platforms is so important. “Any time we can share a bit about how we experience the world, we plant seeds that may one day undo the stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination we experience both in-person and online.”

Take action: The Change.org petition has more than 5,500 signatures so far, and you can add yours here. The Mighty reached out to Facebook and Bitmoji for comment and has yet to hear back.

More From the Mighty: Join The Mighty’s Chat Space group by downloading our app or comment below.

Header image via Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook

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