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.


Become an alchemist. Turn "lead"!into "gold" in your life.

Life can be one "heavy" backpack. 

Life can be one "heavy" backpack. 

Don't get me wrong.  I would not wish my disease of Usher's Syndrome on anyone.  It is a devastating disease that robs me of more vision and hearing every day of my life, not to mention the mental space the whole journey takes up in my head. 

I have said many times as well that Usher's Syndrome is the best thing that ever happened to me.  Getting this disease is so rare that it is akin to winning the lottery.  

As Jack Doles (WOODTV8 sportscaster) once said, "it is not a lottery that many of us would want to win" but it is what is.  

And that, is part of the beauty of looking at your life an alchemist.  I have all the gifts and talents that I have.  

At this stage of my life, it is up to me to inventory them, assess them and have the nerve to mix them up in new ways and combinations to create the most of this amazing shot God gave me on earth.


Harness your life experiences into optimism. 

Harness your life experiences into optimism. 

I have spent many a day, year and even decades fighting the pull that is inevitable with my disease. There are no treatments or cures.  Once I keep pushing that one sobering fact into my head and accept it -the result is not as scary as I have let my fears take me.  In fact, I have found it brings great peace, beauty and grace.   

I have discovered that it is up to me to define myself and change my perspective of the world rather than hope that the world will someday change for me. So, I don't have to do the changing. LOL

Be resilient in harsh elements. 

Be resilient in harsh elements. 

I can't tell you how many bruises, bumps, falls or just plain frustration and exhaustion have taken my days past in life.  That said, the very beautiful part of my life is that these thorns of pain have also brought forth the gifts of amazing opportunities, possibilities and potential as well. 

Who would have ever thought you can make a "go" at being a deaf-blind adventurer, advocate & storyteller?

Realize the world is grander and bigger than you.

Realize the world is grander and bigger than you.

As we traverse Spain, it just blows the mind thinking that for hundreds of years in a row a city would tirelessly work to build a cathedral on the hills to be the light to the surrounding world.  They did not do it for one person or the individual recognition, it was build something bigger and make the world better. I am still on the lookout for cathedral with corporate naming rights and a flashing neon sign...

An alchemist says: I have rocks, people and no power tools, but we can be a refuge for those who we live with here and ...together we will be stronger than if we are alone.

Two twigs turned just right send a message. 

Two twigs turned just right send a message. 

We all can be alchemists.  

You do not have to change the world or discover the next amazing vaccine.  

All you may need to do is think about what you have and how you can use it in a completely different way.   

Millions of people have walked this path I am on across Spain.  It's been over 1200 years and it is known as the Walk of St. James or the Camino de Santiago.  This year alone, a quarter million people will hike it.

Think of all of these people over the centuries simply taking 2 twigs - crossing them and walking on.  They started with 2 simple little things -sticks, and turned them into a cross. It leaves behind a message that reverberates for miles and years -long after the person who made it has passed on the trail.  

The message that is left is of hope, love and the sacredness of the past.  All from 2 sticks. If you can cross 2 sticks, you can be an alchemist.


Don't always go it alone. You could kill yourself. 

Don't always go it alone. You could kill yourself. 

The modern message is to be independent and secure the future on your terms.  At some point, all of us in our human journey will and do have to come to terms with the sobering facts about what constraints we face in the world.

So,  an alchemist needs to know when to ask for help and know their limits. I now ask the guys to help me cross before I get nailed by a speeding truck.  In the future, a guide dog may be my new resource to navigate the world.  As I get older, I get just a little (and I mean little) smarter 😀.

Bridge the gap so that others may follow. 

Bridge the gap so that others may follow. 

On the Camino de Santiago, we are not given surveys on our hiking experience by the towns or the government of Spain.  We are just hiking through.  Our needs are simple.  

So, when we have downtime, a good peregrine simply picks up what is around us on the trail and just makes it better than we just left it.  

A peregrine alchemist rolls up their sleeves and creates a bridge for those who follow to have a better journey.  No recognition given needed or expected.


Soul alchemists

Soul alchemists

Father Loc and a Sister from the order of Sisters of the Holy Spirit (Sweden) are 2 current ambassadors on the journey to Santiago.  

It is impressive and humbling see Sister (who is in full religious garb with a big backpack -and a cold) in 97 degree heat.

It is impressive to see those whose vocation is the "spiritual life" are "walking the walk" and experiencing the message to the world that has been here for centuries now.

Give life's backpack a rest now again 

Give life's backpack a rest now again 

The alchemist never quits.  They get frustrated, angry, sad, disappointed and give things a rest.  Then the next day, they try it again, again and again...

The beauty of what God gave us in being human is the ability to aspire to new heights, skills and experiences.  

All it may take is a little faith in yourself and tapping the alchemist within you. 


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 17th to celebrate Usher Syndrome World Awareness Day. #USHEQX 


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