Apple CEO (and his sidekick Siri) remind you to 'Just Say Hi' to people living with disabilities

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Siri, Tim Cook Reveal How To Talk To Someone With A Disability


If you aren't sure how to start a conversation with someone with a disability, ask Siri.

"It's easy," she'll respond. "Just say, 'Hi.'"

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Siri learned that tip from the Just Say Hi campaign, an effort launched by the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. The initiative, which hinges on PSAs by celebrities and people living with the disorder, hasn't only added Siri to its list of supporters. Apple CEO Tim Cook is lending his voice to the cause in a new PSA, too.

In the campaign's newest effort, released Tuesday morning, Cook — one of the moral leaders of Silicon Valley — explains why just saying hello to someone living with a disability can make all the difference. The seemingly small gesture has a big impact, challenging the all-too-common feelings of discomfort non-disabled people have when interacting with people with disabilities.

The video, which was shot on an iPhone 6s Plus, ends with Siri proclaiming the campaign's key message — just say hi.

Richard Ellenson, CEO of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, tells Mashable the partnership with Apple and Cook was an easy choice. Apple as a company is no stranger to thinking about the accessibility of innovation, with the concept of "inclusion inspiring innovation" as a part of the company's accessibility goal.

Apple devices, Elleson says, are notable for their integrated features which can turn all iPhones into adaptive tech for those living with a wide range of disabilities.

"Apple's involvement in the campaign is terrifically meaningful to our Foundation," Ellenson says. "Frankly, no one has been better able to communicate about how we can express our individuality and also connect with others [than Apple]. The fact that we've found a truthful moment that resonates with Apple — and with Tim — encourages us to believe that we have a chance to put a dent in the universe for people with disabilities. And, of course, that's what we've set out to do with Just Say Hi."

The campaign, which was launched in October for the foundation's 60th anniversary, has already seen sizable success, according to Ellenson. While he says that success can be seen numerically in the foundation's growing number of followers on social media, Ellenson adds that personal stories he hears from those living with disabilities are far more important when measuring impact.

After all, Ellenson says, inspiring human connection is what the campaign is all about.

In a recent post on Love That Max, blogger Ellen Seidman, who has a son named Max with cerebral palsy, praises the campaign for the impact it has had on her son's life.

"The key word: 'Hi.' That's all it may take to bridge an awkward gap," she writes of the campaign. "I suppose 'wassup!' or 'sup!' or 'yo!' would also work. The point is, reach out. Don't be afraid. It doesn't have to be awkward."

Cerebral palsy, the most common motor disability in children, affects approximately 1 in 323 kids in the United States, according to the CDC. An estimated 17 million people live with the disorder globally.

About 15% of the world's population, or approximately 1 billion people, live with some form of disability.

Other notable names who have already participated in PSAs for the Just Say Hi initiative include Shameless actor William H. Macy, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and comedian John Oliver.

To join the conversation, use the hashtag #JustSayHi or download the Just Say Hi app for iOS or Android.

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