Snapchat avatars finally get a wheelchair


Type ‘wheelchair’ into the stickers search bar in Snapchat to customise your avatar with these latest additions. — AFP Relaxnews

Inclusivity is a hot topic in the world of social media, with user representation proving a key factor of concern for the Internet’s favourite social networking platforms. Snapchat, for example, has boosted inclusivity by rolling out wheelchair animations for its Bitmoji avatars.

“Bitmoji’s mission has always been to create avatars that reflect and represent the diversity of our community. And while we recognise that we have more work to do, today we hope to become one step closer in reaching our greater goal of making inclusivity a fundamental part of our Bitmoji avatar platform,” explains the Snapchat team in a blog post.

Available in the stickers tab

The use of these avatars – built to reflect user traits and now available with a wheelchair – was first made possible from Feb 25 following a test launch. In fact, users looking to customise their Bitmoji to reflect their physical appearance now have the option of adding a manual wheelchair. Simply type “wheelchair” into the search bar via the Bitmoji app or in Snapchat by selecting the stickers tab.

A collaborative effort

In the past, Snapchat has been criticised for its lack of accessibility options for users with disabilities, especially those with visual impairments. With these new avatars, the platform seems to want to make amends while also working hand in hand with the community: “Over the past year we’ve been in touch with members of our community around requests to see their Bitmoji represented in a wheelchair. So, to create this first round of designs, we gathered their feedback, and worked closely with our disability rights advisor – both collectively guiding us in their design, specifically around the manual wheelchair's details: the arm guard, the foot rest, the fabric of the seat, and how the spokes are positioned,” Snapchat explains.

Kickstarting conversation with Gen Z

It's a first step for the platform, which has announced plans to continue these new additions to better represent its users with disabilities: “we want to acknowledge that there's much more to inclusion, and we understand that disability comes in many forms, both visible and invisible.” The social network has called on its members to share their feedback to help improve or develop new Bitmoji – a way of kickstarting user engagement, particularly with Gen Z, known for placing greater importance on issues of representation on social media. – AFP Relaxnews

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