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.

Persevere Through Challenges

When I travel the world doing storytelling / public speaking engagements I talk a lot about that the beauty of life is the very struggle of in and day out.

It is in the midst of our struggles, that we can find our own purpose and resolve.  Struggles refine us, hone our skills and forces us to make decisions around determination, persistence, resilience and whole host of other fruits to be harvested and drawn on to sustain us when the backpack of life gets heavy.

As our rope team looks at the past 8 days hiking on the Camino de Santiago, we have struggled, had to change and adapt to what faces us (each hour and day) as we cross over the Pyrenees and the sprawling mountain ridges traversing the length of Spain.   

The difference between the possible and impossible is often found in the gifts of struggles and barriers known in such words as creativity, resourcefulness, teaming, curiosity, learning, innovation and more.

Here's how we are going up and down the never ending mountain ridges and valleys: 

It has been 90 or above just aout every day. 

Our big successes in leading and being a deaf-blind hiker have come here:



Profile of a deaf-blind perigrino

Profile of a deaf-blind perigrino

The team and the technology  

The team and the technology  

It is so hot we are getting up at 5am.  This means Bill sees nothing.  I strap on my LED lamp light and use it to see the feet of whichever person is guiding me that morning.  This is big for me to at least know what direction we are going.

On the left, Jack has a small silver microphone on his lapel. This is a #Phonak Roger mini-microphone.  When Jack (and the other guides) walks, he talks to me about about curbs, sewers, ditches, trail slope, trees, cars, bikers and his old girlfriends.  The latter information I could do without.  LOL

The #Phonak Roger microphone is a Bluetooth microphone that sends the wireless voice signal into my #Phonak Compilot - the silver device around my neck on the right.  

The signal is re-purposed and sent hands-free directly into my hearing aids.  This crystal clear voice signal is a lifeline for me when it comes to not getting hit by someone or something both on and off the trail.  


On-road trekking

On-road trekking

Sure poles take pressure off the knees,  especially when walking for 33 days.

But, there is a big story in those poles. 

Poles help me navigate and take in many sensory inputs.  Walking on a road I can glide the edge and stay on the road and fall in the the ditch that may be there.  This combined with the white line keeps me tracking without veering to the center line.   


Tough Trekking

Tough Trekking

When we get to the rough patches the poles are my stabilizers.  Instead of foot placement first, I do pole placement then the foot follows.  The rocks and scree are always shifting, so rolled ankles and leg injuries are always possible.  

As we go up, poles are securing the next level. As we go down, we are trying to not fall forward so I can tell how large of a step to take, determine the slope and pitch and make a safer downhill descent. 

In the forest, trees and branches love to find the head. I use my #Columbia Sunglasses from VSP Global to protect my eyes and I raise the poles up high above the elbow and let the poles push branches away.  The guides behind have learned to duck lest they be side-swiped! 


This adventure project is to celebrate a life-long journey with Usher Syndrome- a devastating disease that robs its victims of their hearing and vision progressively decade by decade. There are no treatments or cures.  After 33 days of hiking, my guides and I will be arriving in Santiago on September 16th in celebration of Usher Syndrome World Awareness Day.

If you are interested in supporting this project, you can go to

Thanks for reading and feel free to share with the world.