American Girl’s newest 2020 Girl of the Year has been released, and the latest doll is the first doll with a hearing loss. Joss Kendrick is “a fierce athlete born with hearing loss and a passion for surfing and competitive cheer,” according to the American Girl website.
In Joss’s backstory, her character was born deaf in her left ear, and can partially hear out of her right ear with the assistance of a hearing aid, included with the doll. Joss is a surfer who tries out for competitive cheer on a dare from her brother and learns more about herself as she competes in both.
American Girl has offered accessories like hearing aids, glasses, wheel chairs, and more for purchase in its stores and catalog, but Joss is the first major character to feature an assistance device as part of her story. The manufacturer worked with experts in hearing loss and portrayals of deaf people in literature to create Joss’s character.
American Girl is partnering with the Hearing Loss Association of America to raise awareness and collect donations. The company will donate $25,000 to the HLAA, take donations in stores, and support its annual walk to raise awareness of hearing loss.
As with other American Girl Girl of the Year dolls, Joss will be available at American Girl stores and online at their website while supplies are available.