A parents’ campaign group has expressed its dissatisfaction with Lego’s new Duplo community set, claiming it strengthens prejudices about people with disabilities.
Toy Like Me has been calling for Lego to produce a set of toys including someone with a disability to help raise awareness among children.
“We applaud Lego for producing a wheelchair using Duplo figure,” Rebecca Atkinson, founder of the campaign, said in a press statement. “But it’s so disappointing that the only wheelchair using figure across all Lego products is an elderly person being pushed along by a younger figure. What does this say to children about disability?”
The group argues it would have been better to have included a younger figure with a disability to overcome the misconception that only older people have to deal with such problems.
Lego believes the new toy will encourage children to learn about disabilities.
“We are always excited to introduce new accessories, such as the new Lego Duplo wheelchair, to further children’s constructive role play and learning opportunities. The beauty of the Lego system is that children may choose how to use the pieces we offer to build their own stories. In this case, any Lego figure can be placed in the wheelchair,” explained Trisha McDonnell, Lego Education’s global public relations manager.
Toy Like Me uses social media to appeal to the toy industry to be more inclusive in the type of products it makes.
But Atkinson told The Huffington Post that so far, Lego had not been willing to engage with the campaign.
This is despite a Change.org petition which has secured the support of more than 17,900 people, reports Yahoo News.
In its petition, Toy Like Me points out that more than 150 million children in the world suffer from a disability.
Just last month, disability rights groups were angered by Lego’s description of one of its toys as a “back-of-the-bus window-licker,” a term which is an offensive description for people with mental disabilities.
“We have very high expectations of our products. This also includes the text we use to describe them towards consumers. We are sorry that wording which could be considered offensive has been used, as this has not been our intention at all,” the company said in a statement at the time.
It withdrew the text from the description of the toy.