Bill Barkeley

deaf-blind adventurer, advocate, author & storyteller (public speaker)

Bill is a deaf-blind adventurer, advocate, author & public speaker (storyteller) that speaks and delivers adventure projects to inspire people around the world - disabled or not - on building a pioneering, adventuring spirit and overcoming the challenges in their lives.

Bill's work is about helping others get to a better place in this world and paying it forward in a life that has been rich and fulfilling beyond his wildest imagination.

Bill's groundbreaking climb as the first deaf-blind person to summit Mount Kilimanjaro was covered on Good Morning America.

The story was to share a personal journey about building a life within the context of your abilities and disabilities.

In Bill’s case, the journey is an inexorable march further and further into darkness and silence.

He is a pioneer with assistive technologies for the hearing impaired / deaf, the vision impaired / blind and those with dual sensory challenges -the deaf-blind.

Bill is one of 15,000 in the United States and 100,000 in the world with Usher's Syndrome which progressively robs its victims of both hearing and vision over the course of their lifetime. There are currently no treatments and cures.

See why in many ways he believes that it may be the best thing that ever happened to him.

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 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), Metro Health Systems (board member), 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.  

The mission of No Barriers USA is to build a powerful community of modern day pioneers who use the experience of nature to promote innovation, education and assistive technologies that create transformative life experiences and inspire people with physical challenges to live full and active lives. (

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” with major themes of Vision, Reach, Pioneer, Rope Team, Alchemy and Elevate. His speaking engagements have taken him around world to the United States, Peru, South Africa, Germany and Australia (May 2016).  His website is:

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 will hiked  the Camino de Santiago (482.3 miles) from France down to the tip of Spain from August 15- September 17, 2016 arriving Santiago on Usher’s Syndrome World Awareness Day.  His project was called “Own The Equinox” and it marked his 20+ years anniversary of his diagnosis with Usher’s Syndrome.