Accessibility

Disabled Diversity Dolls

Disabled Dolls

 

Disabled Diversity Dolls

Toys help children learn about their environment, disabled diversity dolls will go a long way. Dolls and other toys help children to understand social relating and hopefully instill the joy of stretching their imagination. Technology has certainly made a huge impact on the business of toy making but even so, children still need hands-on objects. After all, it is pretty difficult to have a sense of a relationship with a technical device. Although I am sure many adults may dispute that idea.

Social learning

I am not one to encourage play-based sexism, meaning girls should have dolls and boys should have tractors. However, research shows that gender-based behaviour is encouraged right from the get-go for babies, toddlers, and school-aged children. When you consider that play reflects reality, then it stands to reason why this sort of gravitating continues to exist. Play does help children understand their world socially, so it is important for them to have toys that reflect themselves and the diversity of others.

As a child, I can recall the introduction of dolls with dark skin. It was novel at the time in the ’50s and in the past ten to fifteen years this type of doll awareness promoting has expanded to now include dolls with obvious disabilities.

The makers of American Girl Dolls have taken steps toward diversity by launching several unique dolls. They now offer dolls with hearing aids, dolls without hair, dolls with guide dogs and more. Girls who are differently-abled are able to have their own personalized doll experience.

Hearing-impaired:

An 18-inch My American Girl doll can be fitted with one or two hearing aids to make her hard of hearing or deaf, whichever her owner desires. All it takes is a visit to the doll hospital, where a doctor will perform a permanent piercing behind one or both ears for a fee. New dolls also can be ordered with hearing aids already installed. The hearing aids meet safety standards and are removable and sell at all American Girl stores, and online.

Visually impaired:

The company also released an adorable service dog-in-training set for dolls who are blind or in need of assistance. The dog, named – Chocolate Chip, wears a service vest with a handle that a doll can hold. The set comes with a selection of faux treats. Diversity-focused dolls must be ordered by phone and can have light, medium, or dark skin tones. You can also choose your doll’s eye color. Alternatively, a new head without hair can be created on your current doll, for a fee, at the doll hospital.

As a bonus, “American Girl will offer one free doll head replacement should a girl’s need for a doll without hair ever change,” says Julie Parks, Director of Public Relations for American Girl, “because we know that not all hair loss conditions are permanent.” A new free head is a nice touch and shows that American Girl is being sensitive to the needs of kids with disabilities. If a child’s life or hair situation changes, so should their doll. Cool!

Each doll costs $105, but the company also makes money from sales of its accessories and visits to the doll hospital and hair salon. American Girl first ventured into disability-themed doll accessories in 1997 by experimenting with a wheelchair accessory, which is still sold in stores. It branched out into dolls with temporary injuries and less visible disabilities. They also sell eyeglasses and orthodontics kits.

Other doll makers:

Another doll making company, MyTwinn has long offered its dolls with removable hearing aids, and an online company named Sew Dolling. They created Sew-Able, a line of Special Needs Dolls with a variety of impairments and disabilities. Sew-Able dolls have attachable above- and below-the-knee prosthetics, bald heads that come with wigs and hats to represent chemotherapy treatments, and dolls with walking braces, which are more realistic than crutches for kids with mobility impairments.

 

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