What Tim Cook really said about Apple’s commitment to people with disabilities

Tim Cook onstage at the 2014 WWDC. Photo: Roberto Baldwin/The Next Web
Tim Cook onstage at the 2014 WWDC. Photo: Roberto Baldwin/The Next Web

The devil is in the details: Tim Cook said that Apple’s commitment to accessibility is so complete that the Cupertino company never looks at the return on investment but considers it “just and right.”

That’s a pretty different picture than the one venerable news org Reuters painted by giving a quick chop to his comments in a piece about blind app users seeking more accessibility from Apple.

Apple's CEO gives an acceptance speech for the  IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.
Apple’s CEO gives an acceptance speech for the IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.

Here’s what they quoted Tim Cook as saying:

(people with disabilities are) “in a struggle to have their human dignity acknowledged.” He said, “They’re frequently left in the shadows of technological advancements that are a source of empowerment and attainment for others.”

Compare that to the more complete remarks Cook made in 2013 while speaking at Auburn University:

People with disabilities often find themselves in a struggle to have their human dignity acknowledged, they frequently are left in the shadows of technological advancements that are a source of empowerment and attainment for others, but Apple’s engineers push back against this unacceptable reality, they go to extraordinary lengths to make our products accessible to people with various disabilities from blindness and deafness to various muscular disorders.

I receive hundreds of e-mails from customers every day, and I read them all. Last week I received one from a single mom with a three year old autistic son who was completely non-verbal, and after receiving an iPad, for the first time in his life, he had found his voice. I receive scores of these incredible stories from around the world and I never tire of reading them.

You can watch the 13-minute speech here, the comments about people with disabilities start at around the 4:40 mark.