I am pleased to announce that Gallaudet University and Apple have begun a multifaceted collaboration to make learning more accessible and expand both academic and career opportunities for Gallaudet students.

This collaboration began almost exactly one year ago. I sent our first ever American Sign Language (ASL) and English video message to Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive officer, thanking Apple for its support and its commitment to accessible products and services. I, and others from Gallaudet, had the opportunity to visit Apple last winter. Our work together has led to three exciting initiatives.

First, beginning this fall, Gallaudet will provide all students and faculty with an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and SmartFolio for iPad Pro to support their learning and teaching. Students and teachers at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center will also participate in this new initiative.

Gallaudet will be the first university to participate in a new Apple scholarship program for students of color with disabilities. This will help bring new opportunities for our students and strengthen Gallaudet’s leadership in science, technology, and other related fields.

With this new Apple partnership, our students will have the opportunity to design bilingual apps in American Sign Language (ASL) and English. This furthers our unique bilingual mission and aligns beautifully with our work to advance ASL vibrancy.

On behalf of the Gallaudet University family, I want to extend my thanks and deep appreciation to everyone at Apple. Again, this unique collaboration aligns perfectly with Gallaudet’s bilingual mission, and will serve a critical role in advancing both ASL vibrancy and greater equity for our community. We very much look forward to working with Apple and I have no doubt that our students will benefit from this collaboration far beyond their college years.

“Gallaudet has been at the forefront of advancing education and acceptance of Deaf culture in this country for more than 150 years,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “We are honored to work together with this incredible institution to create even more opportunities for Gallaudet students and for all underserved and underrepresented communities.”

The iPad integration is part of a broader Gallaudet initiative, Connected Gallaudet. It is aimed at rethinking the learning environment both physically and virtually. The university’s bilingual mission—education delivered in both English and American Sign Language—will be further enhanced through Apple’s industry-leading accessibility technology and design, as well as video and digital content.

The benefits to Gallaudet of having the Apple technology include increased personalized learning capabilities, greater digital fluency, an increase in student performance and engagement, quicker turnaround time for assessments, improved record-keeping of students’ progress, and instant communication between peers and teachers. It also presents new opportunities for innovative learning and teaching strategies.

Apple devices are among the most accessible ever and continue to transform the way learners learn and teachers teach. Gallaudet is very excited to be partnering with Apple, and most especially to be part of their efforts to increase opportunities for tens of millions of students with disabilities all over the world.

Apple will begin offering scholarship support for students of color with disabilities to include talented Gallaudet students pursuing degrees and coursework in information technology, computer science and other science, technology, and mathematics fields. Gallaudet students will also have the opportunity to take part in the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The event is held annually and brings together innovators and entrepreneurs to connect, share, and create. Students will get to join more than 5,000 developers attending the event’s engineering sessions, forums, laboratories, and keynote presentations to learn about the latest app and software innovation available through Apple platforms.

Apple also has established a recruitment program with Gallaudet through Apple Carnegie Library. Located on Mount Vernon Square in Northwest Washington, the store employs more than 30 team members who are members of the deaf or hard of hearing community. Many of these employees are Gallaudet students or alumni. In addition, other Apple Stores in the Washington metropolitan area have team members from the Deaf community and can provide a customer experience in ASL.

Apple Carnegie Library has worked with both Gallaudet and Clerc Center to develop customized training, sessions, and programming for students, faculty, staff, and K-12 teachers. Some of you may remember “Apple Day” in the spring of 2019. One hundred ten Clerc Center teachers and staff went to the newly-opened Apple Store at Carnegie Library. This all-day event gave us a glimpse into what the intersection of teaching and technology might look like at Clerc Center. We would be able to integrate technology to enhance instruction, capture the minds of our teachers and students, and create opportunities for bilingual learning. The impact from Apple Day was immediate, and our teachers and staff were energized from learning what was possible. They learned how to better use their equipment for engaging and high-quality educational experiences and quickly implemented all that they had learned into their classrooms. We are grateful to Apple for supporting our elementary and high school program.

Once again, I thank Apple for its support of the university and Clerc Center. I look forward to more innovation and discovery, consistent with our mission and our vision for the future!


Roberta J. Cordano

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