Mattel to release Barbie dolls with disabilities after campaign from Rose Ayling-Ellis

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The new range of dolls – praised by disability campaigners – will feature Barbie with hearing aids, prosthetics and in wheelchairs.

In a campaign warmly backed by Eastenders star Ms Ayling-Ellis, the new range is going on sale across the UK.

And it will feature some of the new Barbie dolls with a behind-the-ear hearing aid, while the Ken doll will have the skin condition vitiligo and a new Fashionista doll will be seen with a prosthetic leg and a wheelchair.

Ms Ayling-Ellis, 27, is also taking part in an accompanying promotional campaign for “Rose, Barbie & Friends”, teaming up with a cast of diverse talent to pose in front of the cameras with dolls that reflect, and celebrate, their differences.

The star explained: “It’s so important for children to be able to see themselves represented in the toys they play with. 

“When I was little, I would draw hearing aids onto my Barbie dolls to make them look like me, so I am thrilled that Mattel is releasing more dolls that encourage kids to celebrate and embrace their differences!”

Ms Ayling-Ellis – who has brought deaf inclusion to the forefront of national conversation this year – has also been pictured alongside inspiring models Jamie, a 17-year-old student with vitiligo, Renee a model and paraplegic wheelchair user, and Faisha, a yoga teacher and model with a below-the-knee prosthetic limb.

All are seen posing with the new inclusive Barbie dolls, as the Barbie brand “celebrates a broader view of beauty, enabling kids to play with more dolls that reflect themselves and the diverse world around them”.

Ms Ayling-Ellis recently became the first celebrity to use British Sign Language to read a CBeebies bedtime story.

And later this month, she will deliver the Alternative MacTaggart lecture at Edinburgh Television Festival where she will discuss her experiences as a deaf actress and life in the TV industry.

Barbie manufacturers Mattel consulted experts in their fields on the new dolls to accurately portray the hearing aids in the Fashionistas line. 

Leading educational audiologist and hard of hearing advocate Dr Jen Richardson said: “I’m honoured to have worked with Mattel to create an accurate reflection of a doll with behind-the-ear hearing aids. As an educational audiologist with over 18 years of experience working in hard of hearing advocacy, it’s inspiring those who experience hard of hearing reflected in a doll. I’m beyond thrilled for my young patients to see and play with a doll who looks like them.”

The brainchild of Ruth Handler, who co-founded Mattel, Inc, the very first Barbie went on display at the American Toy Fair in New York City back on March 9, 1959.

The dolls have gone on to sell millions around the world.

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