Three companies helping to battle the stigma around disabilities

By the summer, toy stores throughout the US are going to be selling Barbie dolls which will feature the iconic figure with a prosthetic limb or in a wheelchair. Join Living Independently as they check out how toymaker Mattel and two other well-known companies are doing their part to fight the stigma around disabilities…

How Mattel is helping to fight the stigma around disabilities.

Forming part of Mattel’s 2019 Barbie Fashionistas line, both the Barbie doll which comes with a wheelchair and the one with a prosthetic leg are launching in June 2019. The entire range intends to provide youngsters with more diverse representations of beauty.

Mattel has been thorough when designing each of its Barbie dolls which have physical disabilities. For instance, when it was creating the Barbie with a prosthetic limb — which has the option to be removed for a play experience that has been deemed “more realistic” — the brand sought out the assistance of 13-year-old Jordan Reeves, a disability activist who was born without a left forearm. Meanwhile, the wheelchair which comes with another of the dolls in the new collection was designed after the toymaker received help from wheelchair experts and the UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital.

"As a brand, we can elevate the conversation around physical disabilities by including them into our fashion doll line to further showcase a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion," commented Mattel when making a statement which marked the launch of its 2019 Barbie Fashionistas line.

How 3M is helping to fight the stigma around disabilities.

To support its employees with disabilities, as well as their families, science-based technology firm 3M has implemented several practices. For instance:

  • The company’s entire workforce has access to the employee resource group, the disAbility Awareness Network.
  • All employees are able to benefit from flexible work arrangements.
  • Staff members are offered an employee assistance program which provides individualized consultation on matters such as how to navigate family and relationship issues, as well as ways to achieve maximum effectiveness at work.

High praise has been delivered to 3M for the support it offers to employees who have disabilities. For example, the company was named one of the 2017 DEI Best Places to Work after recording a 100 per cent score on the 2017 Disability Equality Index — an initiative which allows businesses to evaluate their disability inclusion policies and practices objectively.

3M’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Marlene McGrath, has been keen to acknowledge though: "Having a diverse workforce with people of different abilities, backgrounds and experiences isn't enough, we have to appreciate and learn from those differences. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made, but we know we have to do more. We are committed to ensuring that all our people have the respect, tools and resources they need to reach their full potential.”

How ASOS is helping to fight the stigma around disabilities.

British online fashion retailer ASOS received plenty of positive attention when it launched a tie-dye waterproof jumpsuit in time for the 2018 festival season, due to the fact the clothing had been adapted to make it wheelchair friendly.

Designed through a collaboration between ASOS and British Paralympic athlete Chloe Ball-Hopkins, who is also a sports reporter for the BBC in the UK, the jumpsuit features:

  • A zip that goes around the waist and means that it’s simple to put on and take off despite being an all-in-one piece of clothing.
  • Cuffed angles, which Ms. Ball-Hopkins praises be stating that "so not only is that good for people with different heights, it also means it's easy to put wellies on".
  • A waterproof pocket etched onto the breast of the clothing. For this element, Ms. Ball-Hopkins pointed out: "Whether that's to put your phone in, or you've got medication or information you need to have on you in case of emergency, you can have it on you and know that it can stay dry."

Not only did Ms. Ball-Hopkins play a part in designing the clothing though, but the GB Paralympic hopeful modelled the jumpsuit on ASOS’s website as well. What’s more, this came shortly after the fashion retailer ran an activewear campaign which featured Mama Cox — a model who has had her leg amputated.