Monday, 19 April 2021 17:05

Adobe report highlights desire for more diverse and inclusive emojis

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Diversity and representation is a hot topic – not before time, some would say – so it's not surprising that a fresh spotlight has been turned on human emojis. A survey conducted for Adobe suggests Australians want a more diverse and inclusive range of emojis.

Adobe and Edelman surveyed 7,000 frequent emoji users in seven countries, 1000 of them in Australia.

Just over half (57%) of Australian respondents felt their identity is adequately reflected in current emoji options, and 85% believe emojis should provide more inclusive representations.

Adobe says 75% of Australians feel emojis are an important tool for creating unity, respect and understanding, while 73% say inclusive emojis can help spark positive conversations about important cultural and societal issues.

Understandably, some subgroups struggle to find themselves in emojis. 72% of Australian LGBTQI2+ respondents felt they are not well represented by emoji, as do 31% of Australians living with a disability.

The limited number of skin tones is another cause for concern. 27% of Australian respondents actively use skin tone modifiers to customise their emoji, but 38% believe there are not enough skin tone options to accurately reflect their racial identity.

Furthermore, 51% feel using a skin tone modifier that does not match a person's racial identity is insensitive and uncomfortable.

50% of Australians want to customise emojis to better reflect their identities. Aspects include age (41%), culture (37%), ability/disability (35%), hairstyle/colour (43%), accessories (33%) and body type (33%).

But they are optimistic about the future of emojis. 58% expect the next five years will hold more development and progression, including more inclusive emojis.

When asked about what is on the horizon, the top three inclusive emojis Australians are most excited to see are (first) a person feeding a baby, (second) bubble tea and (third) a person in a tuxedo.

ITWIRE ADOBE EMOJI PERSON FEEDING BABYITWIRE ADOBE EMOJI BUBBLE TEAITWIRE ADOBE EMOJI PERSON IN TUXEDO

"Emojis are a huge part of the way we communicate in Australia and can empower users to express their identity far beyond common appearance," said Adobe typeface designer and font developer Paul Hunt.

"As we continue to see a rise in emoji users, it's crucial we ensure inclusiveness and representation for all Australians, regardless of their racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation or cultural identity.

If we are not able to accurately express ourselves because we can't find an emoji depiction that feels right to us, then we miss the opportunity to share meaningful aspects of our personhood with the people we are engaging."

He added "The world is moving at a rapid pace, and the 2021 Report findings highlight that our current emoji keyboards need to better adapt to align with modern values. Today, we are formally announcing Adobe's partnership with Emojination, who share our commitment and advocacy for more inclusive and representative emojis. It is our ambition to work with Emojination to provide education and support for people navigating the Unicode emoji proposal process, with the ambition to drive greater inclusivity for all", said Hunt.

According to Adobe, its 2021 Global Emoji Diversity and Inclusion Report "unpacks attitudes and desires regarding culture, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age representation through emojis," biut the report is not yet available to the public.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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