Representative Christmas presents for deaf childrenPublished Date: 28 Nov 2019
Shortly after my daughter got her first hearing aids in 2017 it was Christmas. So I decided to buy her a toy with hearing aids. Easy right? The internet is full of news stories following the ToyLikeMe campaigns, which had launched in 2015, declaring how important it was for children to see their own and other’s experiences reflected in the toys around them.
Fuelled by a piece from Gallaudet University about how young children are already developing their self-identity I naively set about the task at hand.
I thought I would just type ‘toys with hearing aids’ into the internet and choose from the selection. I expected to pay a bit extra for postage, as maybe they would come from America, but I wasn’t expecting there to be so little choice.
After trawling every corner of the internet I settled on the build-a-bear soft toy hearing aids and combined them with a traditional teddy bear with a red scarf. The build-a-bear hearing aids come up quite big on the build-a-bear teddies so I opted to put them on a traditional teddy bear, With hindsight I would consider sewing them in place as young children are very quick to pull them off!
I was determined not to waste my hours of research so I compiled it all on my blog, under the ‘Toys that represent deaf children’ tab. This includes a wide range of crafty ideas and toys wearing hearing aids, cochlear implants, Baha’s, featuring sign language, microtia and hearing dogs.
In this blog I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite discoveries along the way, but do check out my own blog for the full range of options.
Toys for under three’s
Baby Talk book contains lots of photos of children wearing hearing aids and cochlear implants. It’s quite durable as it’s printed on thick card that can withstand a bit of slobber!
Build a bear hearing aids on your own bear, maybe they could be adapted to make cochlear implants. These aren’t available in stores, online only.
Beccas Crochet Studio is no longer trading but if you do an image search for ‘BeccasCrochetStudio’ photos of their range of crocheted soft toys wearing hearing aids, BAHA’s and cochlear implants come up and if you have a crafty relative maybe they could use this as inspiration.
The board book, ‘Sleep tight teddy’ by Jo Byatt, features a young girl wearing her green cochlear implant. You can find it on the BookTrust website here.
Toys for 3- 7 year olds
The BAHA Bowtique’s Etsy shop doesn’t ship to the UK but it’s a great source of inspiration for what you can make with a bit of Fimo or similar clay. If you're interested, there’s more inspiration on their Facebook page.
Hear Like Me and Just Like You do a huge range of dolls, cartoon characters and soft toys with a range of hearing technology. Just Like You also do a range of other medical devices which can be combined as you choose.
As both these companies are based abroad you will need to get your order in ASAP to ensure Christmas delivery as their products are very popular.
The Superhero Lotto Game by Orchard toys has a superhero wearing his blue cochlear implant on the front of the box and in a nice touch he is also signing ‘help’ in British Sign Language.
If you want to add hearing technology to your child’s toy there is also Sugru mouldable glue that sets rapidly to a solid silicone allowing you to creating hearing aids, cochlear implants or other hearing technology on any smooth surface doll or character you choose. Amazon have a wide selection of colour combinations of Sugru. There are some more detailed instructions on my blog.
I have also had success using Tulip dimensional fabric paint to draw hearing aids on dolls; this is surprisingly durable and uses a very small amount of paint which is available in a range of colours. I’ve not had much success with Tulip puffy paint however.
I have also recently posted a blog on how to create a sign language teacher Barbie doll which can have cochlear implants and/or hearing aids. If you doubt your craft skills are up to the job, give it a go as there’s nothing quite like a little voice piping up “nice hearing aids” as you make some on the dining room table.
There is also a huge range of books, for a range of ages reflecting very wide variety of deaf children’s experiences communication styles and situations now listed on the Wikipedia page entitled ‘List of children's books featuring deaf characters.’ The list includes board books, picture books, comics, graphic novels, novels and chapter books. I’m sure that you could find something that will resonate with your child from this huge selection.
I hope these ideas are useful and you have a happy and restful Christmas!