I’m Suddenly Not Very Thirsty

I just got what should have been a very tempting marketing email.

“Splash into our summer cocktail menu,” it offered. It also used this emoji. 💦

“What,” you might be asking yourself at this moment, “is the problem there? I assume there’s a problem since you said “should have been tempting”.”

The problem, my curious friend, is that you clearly do not use a screen reader. Pretty good problem to have, I must say! Way to not be blind yet, my dude!

“Uh, thanks, I guess. But can you be more specific?”

Sure thing.

One of the things that a screen reader does (which is nice because the damn things are everywhere) is try to describe emojis. Naturally it does this in words, because for what should be some pretty obvious reasons the target audience for a screen reader isn’t great with pictures.

So where you would see 😊, we hear “smiling face with smiling eyes”.

Where you see 🤣, we hear “rolling on the floor laughing”.

Where you see 💩, we hear “pile of poo”, or sometimes, depending on which device we’re using, “smiling pile of poo”.

Some of you are pretty smart, so perhaps you’re starting to see the issue.

If your emoji is part of a sentence with words in it, that emoji is going to be read to us as if it is words.


Where you see “Splash 💦 into our summer cocktail menu”, we hear “Splash sweat droplets into our summer cocktail menu”.

And now you know why we’re likely going to politely decline the invitation, once we’ve finished 🤣, of course.

Join the Conversation


  1. That’s screen reader specific dude. I’m using voiceover and it just says water droplets. Not sweat droplets. There is a face with cold sweat, but that’s a different emoji. That’s weird that the screen reader say different things.

    1. I’ve definitely seen a few differences in descriptions between screen readers. Most of them are the same, but now and then there’s definitely a difference. Not one that generally makes *that* much of a difference, but my main point still stands.

    1. Whether it’s JAWS or NVDA, somebody is sweating in my drink, or at least on my menu. No thanks. Even if it’s the other water droplets thing, you’re still watering it down, which is also a no no.

  2. Just took my phone to this post to see how different things were with Voiceover vs. NVDA. Every emoji is slightly different. The smiling eyes one mentions rosy cheeks, which NVDA completely leaves out. Voiceover says face rolling on the floor laughing instead of just rolling on the floor laughing. There’s also the smiling pile of poo one, which I did mention can be different and the water droplets one that was pointed out in a comment here.

    But again, my main point about emojis being read stands, and not just because I found it really funny.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.