A company called Kids Like Me (www.kidslikeme.co.uk) produces inclusive educational resources, including wheelchairs for dolls, and dolls interestingly called “disability dolls”, which their catalogue has described as “dolls designed to fit the hearing aid, glasses, guide dog and cane, crutches and the leg braces”.
Sounds a bit too much like the real world doesn’t it? They’ve made toy crutches, glasses, canes, hearing aids and wheelchairs, and now they’ve got to name some doll the disability doll to fit into these aids. The dolls don’t look disabled, and like Jesus, you can take away their impairments in a moment by throwing down their crutches, removing their hearing aids etc!
Not sure that this is sending the right message to kids about the nature of impairment or the disabling barriers we face in society. In fact it is probably sending exactly the wrong message.
But never fear, kidslikeme also has what they call a “Special Needs/Disability Set with 11 pieces” – that’s what they call them – pieces – they mean 11 dolls with impairments. These dolls have permanent impairments, which is slightly more realistic, but they come as a set – you play with the “disability dolls” all together – just like being in a day centre.
Wouldn’t it have been better to have a group of dolls some with and some without impairments and call them “down our street” or something? Wouldn’t that better teach children about inclusivity? Or do they want to send the message that disabled dolls (read: people) should be kept all together and seperate from the mainstream population?
Come on people, look around you – the mainstream population is diverse;in Wolverhampton where I live, disabled people are everywhere – signing as they walk around town, zooming around on their ShopMobility scooters; and I want my neices and nephews to play with dolls that reflect this vast range of people, rather than sitting in the corner with the ‘disability dolls’, focusing on the wheelchair or the crutches.
The website is worth a visit just for fun though: the online catalogue unintentionally makes a telling spelling mistake, when it describes the “Special Needs / Disability Set with 11 pieces” as a bumber set maybe they meant bumper, maybe they meant bummer.