Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered a commencement speech at Gallaudet University Friday addressing graduates from the school's Washington, D.C. campus.
Gallaudet is the only university in the world where deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing students live and learn bilingually in American Sign Language and English.
"I want to say how grateful I am for the partnership that Apple and Gallaudet have built in recent years," Cook said. "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. And we look forward to building on our partnership for many more years to come."
In 2020, Apple and the university announced Connected Gallaudet, a unique collaboration for greater accessibility and inclusion in education. The Connected initiative provided all Gallaudet students and faculty with MacBook Pro M1 notebook computers or iPad Pro tablets to support their learning and teaching and enhance the university’s unique bilingual mission of delivering education in both American Sign Language and English.
In 2021, an all-Deaf team of content curators and researchers at Gallaudet University worked with Apple to create several Apple Maps Guides.
Cook urged graduates to "lead with your values."
"What I mean is that you should make decisions, big and small, each and every day based on a deep understanding of who you are and what you believe," he said. "These are not static things, and you wouldn't want them to be. You will learn more and grow more with each passing year as all of us do, but there are foundational values that are core to your personality and your character and these are the things you should choose to live by.
"At Gallaudet, you have received a world-class education. I hope you've used this time to think deeply and openly about the world around you to determine what you believe and why you believe it. What matters now is that you let those ideas guide you that you let your values lead you this is how you build a life of meaning and fulfillment. For me, it was a sense of meaning that drew me to Apple in the first place. As a company, our purpose has always been to create technology that enriches people's lives, and we believe that we can only achieve that goal through a relentless focus on our values … In my own life, it was my values that called me to tell the world ‘I am gay,' so that I might bring a measure of hope to people still hiding who they are from the world. My values are the driving force behind everything I do, and they're at the heart of every decision I make. Now, I recognize that leading a company and leading a good life are not the same thing, but I know in my heart that staying true to who you are and what you believe is one of the most important choices you can make."
Check out the full Gallaudet University commencement below: