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My Experience with Apple as a Deaf Person

I have been an Apple user for as long as I can remember. My first computer was a desktop Mac that I got in the late 90s. My first laptop was PC, but eventually I switched to a MacBook. My first phone was Sidekick, then Blackberry, but eventually I ended up with an iPhone. My first tablet was an iPad. I haven’t switched to an Apple Watch yet – I’m still using an analog watch, haha. So most of my devices are from Apple.

Apple products may be pricey. Sometimes they may introduce new features that users don’t like at first. They may remove some old features that users like. Sometimes there are bugs in their OS that need to be fixed or updated. But overall I like their hardware and software for the ease of use and it gets better with time. I commend Steve Jobs for being a creative genius.

The thing that I like best about Apple is their customer service and especially their deaf friendliness. Yes, the latter is very important for me as a deaf user. Every time I stop by an Apple store or at a Genius Bar, their representatives readily take out their iPhone or iPad to type to communicate with me after I tell them I’m deaf. Some even expressed their interest in learning sign language and asked me for places to learn!

Apple is not the only store where I can communicate with clerks via typing on a device. I’ve had many clerks at other stores being friendly to me, too. What sets Apple apart is when I try to reach to them remotely when I cannot talk to a representative in person.

As the pandemic started, I could not go to an Apple store in person. When I needed to order something, I did that online. I love the fact that Apple has an online chat readily available if I have any questions to a representative. I especially like it that Apple has a statement: “Need some help? Chat now or call 1-800-MY-APPLE.” I wish more companies had that statement to include a chat option!

When I order something from a store and they ask for details, I see a phone number field. It makes me cringe every time when I see a phone number field, especially if it’s required. So when I saw a phone number field on the Apple website for the first time, I felt uncomfortable until I saw a text saying: “We’ll email you a receipt and send order updates to your mobile phone via SMS or iMessage.” I normally put in zeros in required phone number fields, but I gave Apple a chance. I do get updates via email and text on phone, so it’s a good thing.

After I learned that Apple released the new iPhone 12 models, I had the opportunity to ask questions to Apple representatives online via the text chat. It was a great experience. When I asked questions to AT&T representatives, on another hand, the experience was not great – it’s another story for another time. The reason I reached out to AT&T is because they are my phone carrier. I wanted to be sure that I could keep the old plan with the AT&T before I switched phones.

As I got ready to order a new iPhone 12 Mini, my online shopping experience was great. I could easily ask questions to an Apple rep anytime throughout my purchasing process as a link to the text chat was readily available. I had no issues with getting the package on time.

When I got a new iPhone 12 Mini, I stopped by an Apple store to trade in my old iPhone SE. I had to make the appointment online 2 days in advance. 

As I arrived I got a temperature check outside. I had a typed note on my phone ready in advance to show to a guard that I’m deaf and can communicate only via typing. There was a line outside, don’t know why. Maybe for walk ins. The guard let me cut the line short because I had the appointment. The guard relayed to an Apple rep by the door what my note said. The Apple rep typed in my name and walked in with me. He repeated to another Apple rep what my note said. The another Apple rep helped me with erasing my iPhone and doing trade in. The another Apple rep typed on her iPad and I typed on my iPhone. Each table had sanitizers and she used them regularly.

I was nervous because I can not lipread anyone in a mask. Even though I still ask people to write down with their mouths visible, seeing a mouth gives me more visual cues than a masked face. Apple folks made me feel comfortable in their store by explaining my needs to others for me and typing on their devices to communicate with me. Their customer services were great! And very deaf friendly as usual. 

I love Apple customer services! I wish more organizations were deaf friendly by offering a chat option on their website in a visible location and by readily communicating in person via typing on their devices.

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