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Deaf toddler given doll with matching hearing aids

"The doll is very special to us and very much appreciated."

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Harley with his doll. (Jasmine Mead via SWNS)

By Charlotte Penketh-King via SWNS

A deaf toddler is delighted after receiving a doll with cochlear implants just like his.

Jasmine Mead, 27, said son Harley, 21-months-old, has profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss.

She said he "doesn't really understand that he's different" but she got the doll in the hope it would give him confidence as he grows older.

"Baby," the doll, has colorful implants just like Harley, and Jasmine encourages him to sign by involving the toy too.

"Harley loves his doll, he takes it everywhere," said stay at home mom Jasmine, from Bedford, Bedfordshire, England.

"We always show him the doll's ears and the cochlear implant and explain how it is helping the doll to encourage him to recognize how useful it is.

"When we are teaching him how to sign, we use the doll as well to sign.

"I thought it was lovely that Tasha went on 'Love Island' because you don't see many people with additional needs on these kinds of shows.

Harley with his doll after cochlear implant surgery. (Jasmine Mead via SWNS)

"I'm really happy to hear that Barbie has just released a doll with cochlear implants too - it's really nice that the inclusiveness is becoming more readily available.

"Babies that are a bit different are finally being represented and it's lovely to see.

"Harley doesn't really understand that he's different at his young age, but I hope that when he's older and maybe feeling hesitant about wearing them to primary school that the doll will help him feel more confident.

"The doll is very special to us and very much appreciated."

Jasmine, who also has another son, aged six, received the doll from BrightEars - a non-profit family run business which makes inclusive dolls for children - in January 2022.

The company was founded by Clare Tawell, 40, who made her first doll with a hearing aid in 2018 after struggling to find a doll which looked like her daughter Tilly, now six.

They also make dolls with cleft lip palettes, feeding tubes, guide canes, hip spica casts, and feeding tubes.

One of her most popular requests is dolls with the exact same birthmark as kids.

Mom-of-two and radiographer Clare, from Lidlington, Bedfordshire, said: "Bullying often stems from ignorance and knowledge is the power to overcoming this.

"The name BrightEars came about because Tilly and I 'pimp' her hearing aids with a range of funky stickers, from unicorns to dinosaurs, and she also has a vast array of retainers made by myself to jazz up her hearing aids.

"Her hearing aids are purposefully designed to be colorful and noticeable.

"They are a part of her and I never want her to be ashamed of them or be made to feel she has to hide them. She is deaf and proud.

"We're here, we exist, we have the right to be acknowledged and we're proud!"

Jasmine praised "Love Island's" first deaf participant Tasha Ghouri, 24, and hopes to see more people with different abilities having the same opportunities.

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