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American Girl releases doll with hearing loss, first depicted with developmental disability

Joss Kendrick is 10-years-old, athletic, inspirational and has hearing loss that does not define her.

PHOENIX — A very special doll is touching hearts and inspiring children in the hearing loss community and beyond. 

Her name is Joss Kendrick and she is the newest American Girl doll.

Scott Davidson, the manager at American Girl store in Scottsdale, says Joss is 10-years-old, resembles athleticism and confidence and has hearing loss.

"She was born deaf in her left ear. She has some hearing in her right ear with the help of a hearing aid," Davidson said.

"The most exciting element about her is her disability does not define her," he added.

"It's simply an aspect of who she is. It in no way limits her dreams, her goals, her aspirations or desires."

Sherri Collins, the executive director of the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing, says this latest American Girl doll is a special one, because she focuses on everything she can do.

"What really impresses me is (it is) all inclusive," Collins said. "(She's) hard of hearing, (has) hearing loss because she wears a hearing aid, (and) she knows sign language."

American Girl says Joss challenges girls to try all kinds of sports, push past stereotypes and dial in on dedication.

"I think it's important that people see that it is OK," Collins said. "That it is not a stigma that you have a hearing loss. It's not a bad thing."

Collins says this doll will also help parents who can hear, as they raise their children who have hearing loss.

"It's important that parents know there are so many opportunities with these kids who have hearing loss and with today's technology," Collins said.

American Girl took their newest addition one step further, and gifted Joss to the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing and the outreach they do statewide.

The doll company is also partnering with and raising donations for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).

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