People Staff
May 17, 2018 03:14 PM

Nyle DiMarco is giving back to students who, like him, are part of the deaf community.

The deaf America’s Next Top Model winner and Dancing with the Stars champion teamed up with Apple’s CEO Tim Cook on Thursday to kickoff Apple’s accessible Everyone Can Code program at the California School for the Deaf (CSD) in Fremont, California, which CSD and some of the leading schools of its kind will start teaching to their students.

“Being here on the California School for the Deaf campus for Global Accessibility Awareness Day is really special for me,” DiMarco, 29, said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

“I was on track to be an educator and am a big advocate for education inclusion. The deaf students here have an amazing opportunity to learn coding which will open so many doors for them in the future. I’m excited for them that they get to experience this and that Apple is making this happen,” he continued. “We didn’t have this technology when I was in school and it’s great steps to bridging both worlds, the deaf and hearing.”

During his appearance, DiMarco communicated with students of varying ages at CSD.

Apple is teaming with leading educators for blind and deaf communities across the U.S. to bring accessible coding to their schools. Beginning this fall, schools supporting students with vision, hearing, or other assistive needs will start teaching the Everyone Can Code curricula for Swift, Apple’s intuitive programming language.

Courtesy Apple
Courtesy Apple

The Everyone Can Code curricula was created so students from kindergarten to college and beyond can learn and write code using Swift. With teacher guides and lessons, students learn the basics on iPad with Swift Playgrounds, which lets you use real code to solve puzzles and control characters with just a tap, to App Development with Swift to help aspiring app developers build their first iOS apps.

RELATED VIDEO: ‘I Didn’t Want to Give People an Excuse to Say Deaf People Can’t Dance’: Nyle DiMarco on Why He Joined ‘DWTS’

“Apple’s mission is to make products as accessible as possible,” Cook said in a statement. “We created Everyone Can Code because we believe all students deserve an opportunity to learn the language of technology. We hope to bring Everyone Can Code to even more schools around the world serving students with disabilities.”

In recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day on Thursday, Apple is hosting events around the world to promote inclusive design and how technology can support all people with disabilities.

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