Mattel Unveils Helen Keller Doll — the Newest Addition to Barbie's Inspiring Women Series
A doll inspired by Helen Keller will hit shelves at retailers nationwide and on Barbie.com on Tuesday
Barbie's line of Inspiring Women dolls is adding a new famous face to its lineup: Helen Keller!
Keller, who notably did not let being both deaf and blind keep her from learning to communicate, will be the latest historical figure to have her likeness immortalized, Mattel announced on Tuesday.
"We are excited to welcome disability rights advocate, author and educator Helen Keller to our expanding Inspiring Women collection as Barbie continues to highlight strong female role models," Lisa McKnight, Mattel's senior vice president and global head of Barbie and dolls, said in a statement. "Representation comes in all forms and we recognize that the blind and low vision community is often overlooked, with their stories going untold. We hope that by introducing children to Helen Keller's story of perseverance and determination, they will be inspired to dream bigger than ever before."
The company teamed up with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) to ensure that the doll and its surroundings are not only authentic, but accessible to the blind/low-vision community. In that vein, there is braille on the packaging and on a book accessory held by the doll.
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Keller, whose doll wears a striped skirt and ruffled blouse inspired by her time as a student in the early 1900s, was the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, and was also a renowned author, speaker, educator and advocate.
She was born in Alabama in 1880, and lost her sight and hearing two years later following an illness, according to Helen Keller International. With help from tutor Anne Sullivan, she learned to communicate via sign language, read and write in braille, touch-lip read and speak.
She graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1904, and in 1915, co-founded the American Foundation for Overseas Blind to help World War I veterans blinded in combat. The organization later became Helen Keller International, while its co-founder went on to help found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Keller retired from public life in 1961 after suffering a stroke, and died in 1968 at her home in Connecticut at age 87.
Her doll will be sold at retailers nationwide and on Barbie.com starting on Tuesday, and joins a lineup of other inspiring women in the series like Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Maya Angelou, Billie Jean King, Ella Fitzgerald, Florence Nightingale, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Katherine Johnson, Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks and Sally Ride.
The Inspiring Women series was launched by Barbie in 2018 on International Women's Day as a way to honor "historical role models who paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before," PEOPLE previously reported.
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