The website, which launches as the Rio Paralympics is in full swing, features images of #ToyLikeMe’s signature makeovers such as Hulk with a hearing aid and Storm Trooper with a prosthetic blade, as well as the world’s largest collection of deaf toys with hearing aids and cochlear implants available to buy, thanks to the power of 3D printing. Yes, characters including Tinkerbelle, Paw Patrol’s Ryder and Frozen’s Kristoff have all made it to the front of the audiology waiting list!
“We’re turning triple dipple somersaulty backflips of happiness to launch toylikeme.org,” says Rebecca Atkinson, the UK journalist and creative consultant behind #ToyLikeme. “We’ve scoured the internet looking for products which represent diff:ability. Now for the first time ever, parents and carers can find them all in one place.”
Atkinson, who is herself partially deaf and partially sighted, established the #ToyLikeMe ‘toy box revolution’ in April 2015 to call on the global toy industry to positively represent 150 million disabled children worldwide. With over 40k followers in 45 countries, and fans including Stephen Merchant, Julia Donaldson and Katie Piper, Atkinson hopes the unique celebratory approach taken by #ToyLikeMe will help bust pervasive stereotypes and inspire change in the way that diff:abilty is presented to children, both diff:abled and otherwise.
“It’s time diff:ability got a creative airing,” says Atkinson. “For too long diff:abled people have been portrayed in an unimaginative and boring light in the toy box. Wheelchairs are nearly always in the hospital sets and usually grey. At #ToyLikeMe we aim to use creativity to push the aesthetics of disability into the modern times and shake out the dust!”
#ToyLikeMe hope that the products featured on toylikeme.org will be enjoyed by all children, not just those with diff:abilities themselves. “Harper Beckham who was recently snapped with a toy wheelchair has shown that ALL children can enjoy playing with diff:abled toy,” says Atkinson. Recent research by academic Sian Jones at Goldsmith University’s Psychology Department has also found that non-diff:abled children are more open to forming friendships with diff:abled classmates after playing with wheelchair toys.
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