American Girl Introduces Doll With Disability

American Girl has introduced a new doll with a developmental disability.

The company’s 2020 Girl of the Year is Joss Kendrick, a character with congenital hearing loss. She is deaf in her left ear, but can hear a little in her right ear with the use of a hearing aid.

This is the first time American Girl has featured a doll with a disability. Although they have offered accessories like a wheelchair, hearing aids, service dogs, and crutches before, Joss is the brand’s first doll to have a physical disability as part of her story.

Hearing loss is one of the most common disabilities, affecting nearly 15 percent of children ages 6 to 19.

Joss’ story says she’s from Huntington Beach, California and likes surfing and competitive cheerleading. American Girl worked with experts in hearing loss to make Joss as real and relatable as possible. They specifically worked with the Hearing Loss Association of America, an organization that represents, supports, and advocates for consumers with hearing loss. The company wants to make sure people know Joss’ hearing loss does not define her or limit her dreams.

Joss’ story is also timely as the 2020 Summer Olympics will feature surfing as a sport for the first time ever. American Girl has teamed up with surfer Caroline Marks to help launch the doll. Marks will compete in the inaugural U.S. Women’s Olympic surfing team in July.

The doll is available now. She comes with a removable hearing aid. She also has two books, in which Joss also occasionally uses American Sign Language.

Joss can be found at American Girl stores and on their website.

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