Mattel, makers of Barbie dolls, recently launched the first Barbie doll with hearing aids. The Barbie, which was launched earlier this year in the ‘Fashionista’ range, has hot pink behind-the-ear hearing aids on both ears.
Rose Ayling-Ellis, of Strictly Come Dancing fame, worked with the company in the production of the doll. She says, “It’s so cute. Barbie used to be my favourite doll ever, and I used to draw hearing aids on my dolls to make them look like me. So now we’ve got a doll that has a hearing aid. If I’d got given this Barbie when I was a child, I probably would have screamed and got over-excited and I’d have played with it all of the time!
“Now deaf children are able to do that, and that’s lovely and special. But it’s not just for deaf children to play with. Hearing children can play with it, and see [deafness] as a normal thing. I think it’s important that children have diversity in their play because it will help them better understand the world around them and be more accepting of people who are different.”
The Barbie is part of a range that includes a female doll in a wheelchair, a doll with a prosthetic leg and a male ‘Ken’ doll with vitiligo. Mattel has revealed that a doll with hearing aids was highly requested by customers.
Rose concludes, “Kids can play with a Barbie that represents them and I think that’s just amazing. It’s powerful, and I’m excited to see what it does.”