American Girl introduces doll with hearing loss for 2020 Girl of the Year

This marks the first time a doll's disability has been worked into her storyline.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Rachel Paula Abrahamson

Meet American Girl’s 2020 Girl of the Year: Joss Kendrick.

The 10-year-old surfer and competitive cheerleader from Huntington Beach, California, has long brown hair and a penchant for hooded sweatshirts.

Joss also wears a hearing aid in her right ear. She can't hear at all in her left.

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American Girl’s 2020 Girl of the Year, Joss Kendrick, wears a hearing aid. American Girl

Though American Girl introduced a wheelchair in 1996, and went on to offer items such as service dogs, diabetes kits and leg braces, Joss is the first doll whose disability is a storyline in her book series.

“We’re proud to welcome Joss Kendrick, whose stories are sure to instill confidence and character in girls who are learning to think about the possibilities in their own life,” American Girl’s general manager Jamie Cygielman said in a statement.

To make Joss as authentic as possible, the Mattel-owned company worked with a team of experts including pro surfer Crystal DaSilva, who was born deaf.

"Deaf children should know that they can accomplish anything in life with hard work and dedication," DaSilva, 35, told TODAY Parents in an email. "They should not be afraid to do anything they set out to do in life simply because they have a physical challenge."

Joss' hearing difference is worked into her storyline. American Girl

American Girl also partnered with Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and donated $25,000 to support the organization’s education and awareness programs.

“The idea of having this beautiful doll who wears a hearing aid and does all these fun things is so important,” HLAA’s executive director Barbara Kelley told TODAY Parents. “It creates awareness about hearing loss and normalizes it on so many levels.”

And Twitter agrees.

As one woman wrote, “As a mom of a daughter with hearing loss I’m so thankful!”