Apple CEO Tim Cook gave the commencement address at Gallaudet University on Friday, hailing the school’s commitment to accessibility and its role in helping Apple create accessible products.
A senior student extended the invitation to Tim Cook via a signed message to the CEO on Twitter last month, with Cook accepting in just one hour. Cook was introduced to the stage by Marlee Matlin, star of Apple TV+ smash-hit CODA, which won the company an Academy Award for Best Picture at the Oscars earlier this year, the first streaming platform to scoop the coveted honor.
In his speech, Cook thanked the school for its commitment to helping to build accessible Apple products and services:
“As Apple works to design technology that is accessible to all, we are incredibly fortunate to have such innovative and committed partners. It’s thanks in part to this community that Apple Maps now has a series of guides that help users identify deaf-owned and deaf-friendly businesses.”
Cook told students he only had “one important piece of advice” to share with them. “Whatever you do, lead with your values.” He also told graduates that when it comes to building a meaningful and fulfilling life, “no one can answer that question for you… no iPhone feature that can come to the rescue.”
Apple and Gallaudet University have an extensive relationship. In 2020 the company gave every single student and faculty member its best iPad, an iPad Pro, along with an Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. Speaking in October of that same year, University President Roberta J. Cordano said that “Apple is actually ahead of the curve and has always been. Hardware and software, including macOS, iOS, and even watchOS, are designed thoughtfully and with input from end-users such as ourselves.” Cordano also praised Apple for creating employment opportunities and scholarships for its students to attend WWDC.