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Nyle DiMarco Teamed Up With Apple for a Really Important Reason

Nyle DiMarco Teamed Up With Apple for a Really Important Reason

When you think about how you go through your day — waking up, commuting, going to school or work, and then going in reverse — how many of those things do you take for granted? If you take a moment, you’ll realize that many of the systems we use each and every day are designed only with non-disabled people or those who have few accessibility concerns in mind. But that’s what Global Accessibility Awareness Day and many tech companies are trying to change.

The purpose of Global Accessibility Awareness Day is “to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.”
And though tech companies have been making strides toward making their products and services inclusive for all, from Google launching wheelchair-accessible transit navigation to apps like TouchChat, there’s still much work to be done.

To celebrate the day and draw attention to the progress that still needs to be made, Apple, with their CEO Tim Cook, teamed up with actor, model, and activist for the deaf community Nyle DiMarco to surprise students at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, Calif. and kick off the Everyone Can Code program that they’re bringing to the school and other schools for deaf and blind/low-vision students.

We caught up with Nyle over email to find out more about his work with apple and what he wants everyone to know this Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

Teen Vogue: What does it mean to you to be working with Apple on this initiative?

Nyle DiMarco: I am beyond honored. Accessibility and education are two big parts of my life and what I do. Growing up, I was blessed to have access to education, but there are millions of people with disabilities out there without access to education. So working with Apple to push this new initiative is a huge honor.

TV: Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day — what do you want Teen Vogue readers to know about the ways education is still not made accessible in this country and how they can work to change that?

ND: Ninety eight percent of people with disabilities do not have access to formal education. Ninety nine percent of girls with disabilities can’t read write and only 2 percnt of 70 million Deaf people have access to formal education. Those are unfortunate statistics.

We’re being denied access to education and to me, that means our humanity is as well. Education and accessibility are a human right that should be available to everyone. My foundation is working on early language acquisition, but more people need to be involved in awareness and push for change.

TV: People think of technology as making all things accessible for all people; how do you think Apple is leading the way in accessibility?

ND: They are at the forefront! They’re not only raising awareness about accessibility and spotlighting Deaf schools, but they’re providing resources and empowering Deaf students to become coders. This is the approach everybody should do; empowering people with differences to create change and keep pushing boundaries.

TV: How do you think bringing the Swift programming to these schools can impact the tech industry? Do you think this accessibility will impact future accessibility in these kids being able to build programs to solve the problems they face and bring those to the world?

ND: Yes, it will definitely have a good impact. People with disabilities are the most innovative. They create solutions to integrate into society everyday. By empowering them with resources, the future will be more accessible.

TV: You talk a lot about your deafness being an asset; what would you tell teenagers and young people who deal with deafness or similar?

ND: Use your difference as an asset. For me as a Deaf person, I embrace my unique perspective on life, my experiences that differ from many, and being bilingual (english and sign language). I and we as a community have a lot to offer.

TV: How would or could have having this programming in your school changed your education?

ND: I hold a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, so if I was in school now I think my classes would definitely have gotten me into coding. The biggest parts of my career focus on accessibility and bridging both the Deaf and the hearing worlds…coding would’ve been beneficial! I might have to start taking coding lessons ASAP!

TV: What does it mean to you to be meeting with the students today and bringing this to them?

ND: I love meeting and inspiring Deaf students to pursue whatever they want to do in life. If I can do anything, they can too and they can do a lot more than me. They are our future. Who knows one day with their coding skills, we could create apps, web communication programs change the world together!

Related: 6 Things Can You Do to Protect Disability Rights Today