Adobe is out with a new study today that asked people from all around the world how they feel about emoji and what they want to see with future releases. Some of the big themes include only half of users feeling represented in the current emoji options and the vast majority wanting to see more inclusive customization options.

Adobe shared the results of this year’s emoji study in a blog post today and before diving into the specifics, highlighted why emoji and inclusive representation are important:

Emoji can help us express ourselves in ways words often cannot. We use them to approximate tone of voice and gesture: important aspects completely missing in many forms of digital communication. Emoji have evolved to help us fill in the emotional gaps when representing ourselves online. This is why it is so important to be able to see ourselves represented within the library — if we are not able to accurately express ourselves because we cannot 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.

The study included feedback from 7,000 “frequent emoji users” from the US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

One of the first findings was that 50% of people in the study said they didn’t feel their identity is included in the emoji currently available.

And on that topic, 83% of respondents said “emoji should offer more inclusive representation of users with the majority wanting to see more customization options.

For people in all seven of the countries profiled, culture was the number one category of emoji that respondents wanted to see more inclusion in, followed closely by age and race / ethnicity. This is especially the case for respondents that speak more than one language, and for 41 percent of Gen Z, who want to see culture better reflected in emoji options.

Another group that feel left out with the currently available emoji are people with disabilities.

Less than half, or 37 percent, of emoji users with a disability or impairment feel represented in the currently available emoji. Some respondents with a disability would like to see expanded emoji that show more “helping objects” — building on recent additions such as a wheelchair 👩‍🦼, cane 👨🏽‍🦯, or items like hearing aids 🦻.

At the same time, some respondents with disabilities felt reducing their disability to an object could diminish their ability to express themselves authentically. It’s clear to see that emoji needs to make inroads to help those with disabilities feel more enabled.

The majority of people in the survey feel that emoji are an “important communication tool for creating unity, respect, and understanding of one another.” And when it comes to new emoji that they’re excited about, the top three were gender and culturally inclusive.

Notably, iOS 14.5 that is getting close to a public release comes with 217 new emoji and 200 of them vastly expand the combinations of the “couple with heart” emoji.

Check out the full Adobe emoji study here.

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