Bill Barkeley graduated from the University of Southern California in 1984 with a degree in Business Administration. Bill was Director, Sales and Marketing before retiring from a Fortune 500 company after 25 years with leadership positions in Seattle, San Francisco and Grand Rapids. Bill currently travels the world as a deaf-blind adventurer and public speaker/storyteller to share his life journey with progressive hearing and vision loss.
Bill is one of 15,000 – 20,000 people in the United States and 100,000 people in the world with Usher’s Syndrome. Usher’s Syndrome is disease that robs people of both their hearing and vision over time. Bill lost 85% of his hearing from birth and in his late teens/early 20’s began to experience night blindness and vision loss. Usher’s Syndrome is progressive and there are no known treatments or cures.
As a deaf-blind advocate, Bill is active in community service. He works with the Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired (A.B.V.I. – past president), Hearing Loss Association of America (local and national level), University of Michigan Metro Health (board chair), Foundation Fighting Blindness (local and national level) and No Barriers USA (board member).
In 2008, Bill completed a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa as a project on assistive technology for the deaf-blind. He has been featured on local, regional, national and international media such as Good Morning America, WOODTV 8, The Grand Rapids Press, National Public Radio (NPR), Faith Magazine; Hear The World, Hearing Loss Association of American (magazine) and Sierra Club Radio. A film documentary by Josh Levine, Walk Your Own Path – Bill Barkeley’s climb of Mount Kilimanjaro was released to the adventure film circuit. The climb was covered in Outside Magazine (July 2008).
In 2009, Bill was awarded the No Barriers USA - James O. Goldsmith Pioneering Spirit Award. The award was created to recognize the individual or organization that passionately and selflessly works to break down the barriers that limit accessibility to life. Through pioneering spirit, focused determination, innovative spirit and tireless effort, the recipient is recognized for opening the door to adventure for others. Later that year, at the invitation of Erik Weihenmayer (the first blind man to summit Mount Everest), Bill joined No Barriers USA as a board member.
Bill does motivational speaking to corporations, schools and non-profits on the Kilimanjaro climb and his ongoing adventure projects.
His presentations to all groups (disabled or not) focuses on building a life without limits using the No Barriers Life Elements (see Author tab) that he has co-authored in his pioneering work as a board member at No Barriers USA.
His speaking engagements have taken him around world and throughout the United States, Canada, South America, South Africa, Germany and Australia.
Bill’s adventure projects have kept him busy ever since his groundbreaking climb of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Expedition leader - 1st Hear The World - Sound Academy for deaf teenagers to the Amazon
Global Ambassador - Guest of the people of South Africa
Climbed Mt. Quandary - Colorado
Participant - World T.E.A.M. Sports Adventure Challenge - Colorado
Hosted No Barriers Summit - Winter Park
Expedition leader - 2nd Hear The World - Sound Academy for deaf teenagers to the Grand Canyon in partnership with the National Park Service.
Ran as 1st deaf-blind person to complete the Boston Marathon- the world’s premiere marathon.
Cycled in RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) - the world’s oldest, largest and longest bike event (400+miles)
Ran as 1st deaf-blind person to complete the Boston Marathon - twice.
Visited Rome for first ever deaf-blind audience held with Pope Frances.
Hosted the No Barriers summit - Park City
Expedition leader - 3rd Sound Academy for deaf teenagers to Machu Picchu.
Bill hiked the Camino de Santiago (500+ miles) from France down to the tip of Spain from August 15- September 17, 2016 arriving Santiago on Usher’s Syndrome World Awareness Day.
Bill led with 3 other No Barrier’s Leading the Way youth expedition to the Mustang Region in Nepal.
605 Lovett Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
(Please note Bill does not accept speaking fees for his speaking engagements).