Apple’s decision to let people with a medical condition buy its latest wireless earbuds has some people worried.
“This is not a company that has any empathy for people with disabilities,” says a former employee who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
The former employee said he believes Apple is trying to get around the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) regulation that bans discrimination on the basis of disability.
That means Apple can charge more than $350 for the first pair of wireless earphones, and that they can’t be exchanged for new ones.
Apple said the new wireless earpieces have been reviewed by a medical expert and have a “standard of quality” that the company has been able to maintain.
In a statement, Apple said it is “committed to providing consumers with the best wireless products available to them,” and it will continue to provide updates as necessary.
“We’ve taken significant steps to make sure that our products are made in the best possible quality and fit,” Apple said.
“We have been reviewing products in the US and around the world for over a year, and we have never had any issues.”
As for the FCC regulation, a spokesman for the agency said in a statement that it does not make it “an acceptable practice” for companies to charge more for a product “unless the product is a medical necessity.”
In addition to the FCC regulations, Apple is in the midst of developing its own wireless ear earbud line, which is expected to be available later this year.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the earbuddy is designed to be “small enough to fit into an ear canal and be used in a variety of settings.”
The company has also launched a smartphone app called “Sleeping Bag” that allows people with hearing loss to use the device to sleep, and Apple’s patent on the technology is being used in some hearing aids, including some hearing protection that is used in the ears of people with other neurological conditions.