Teacher Paints Hearing Devices on Dolls for Hard of Hearing Kids

Her simple gesture is going a long way.
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By Ashley Edwards Walker, Contributing Writer
Published September 30, 2019
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Image: Getty Images

In recent years, companies have made efforts to more accurately reflect the diverse world in which we live, leading to more ads featuring disabled models and gender-neutral dolls. But we still have a long way to go before every child sees themselves represented in images and products around them. Rather than wait for companies to catch up, one California teacher decided to take things into her own hands and drew hearing devices on dolls for her hard of hearing students to play with.

Genesis Politron, a kindergarten teacher who works with deaf and hearing impaired students, took to Twitter to share photos of two very special dolls she customized for her classroom. Using what appears to be puffy paint, she drew hearing devices on each of the toys. One sports a traditional over-the-ear hearing aid, while the other has a surgically implanted hearing aid known as a cochlear implant.

“I teach preschool and kindergarten for deaf/hard of hearing kids, and my students never see toys that resemble their hearing devices (hearing aids/cochlear implants),” she explained in a tweet that has since gone viral. “So I added some to our new baby dolls on my own. I wish everyone could see their faces playing with these.”

The tweet, which has received nearly 158,000 likes and racked up hundreds of comments, is proof of the significant impact inclusive actions like Politron’s can have—something her followers and others who saw her post being retweeted were quick to point out.

“Wow this is so cool,” one person wrote. “I used to be so embarrassed of my hearing aids and dolls like these would’ve really helped!”

“My mom did this on my stuffed animals for me too when I was little!” another said, adding a couple crying emojis and a heart.

“Representation is so important,” said a third tweet. “Thank you for contributing.”

A few followers also shared stories and suggestions about other ways children with disabilities can feel represented.

“I love this!” one follower said, adding: “If anyone is looking to get a doll w prosthetics, casts, wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, etc., check out!”

“This is the sweetest thing ever!” another follower tweeted. “My friend has two deaf daughters and she got them custom American Girl dolls with hearing aids. To see their faces light up was priceless! Nice job teach! You’re a hero!”

“I painted a mural at an elementary school that included a child with a cochlear implant,” a third person shared. “It just made sense to me because the school had a DHH program. Didn’t even anticipate the kid’s reactions: pointing, laughing, trying to hug it. That small gesture meant so much to them.”

Seeing the dolls also reminded people of the New Zealand dad who had an image of a cochlear implant tattooed on his head in support of his daughter who had the device implanted when she was 4. The family shared that after her dad got the tattoo, she became much more social than she’d previously been—just more proof that helping children feel seen matters.

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