Grand Rapids, USA
Bill Barkeley is one of 15,000 people in the U.S. and 100,000 in the world with Usher's Syndrome (Type 2), the leading cause of deaf-blindness in the world. In 2007, Bill became the first deaf-blind person to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa (19,400 feet) – shattering expectations and confirming his role as an advocate and inspiration for the hearing loss community.
The Hear the World Foundation supported his mission by providing special hearing aids for his climb that actively analysed the sound environment and that are tailored to meet Bill’s special needs. To continue his mission of educating the public on not letting physical disabilities stand in your way, Bill recently returned from the Hear the World expedition to the Peruvian Amazon where he served as a mentor and team leader. The expedition integrated students of mixed hearing abilities in a bid to raise awareness about hearing as a fundamental part of life that so many take for granted.
Bill is currently on the executive committee of the Hearing Loss Association of America (Grand Rapids chapter) and served as the keynote speaker at the Hearing Loss Association of America’s annual convention this past June. He is also past president of the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. In 2009, he was awarded the 2009 No Barriers USA James O. Goldsmith award that recognizes individuals passionately and selflessly working to break down the barriers that limit accessibility to life.
Bill Barkeley graduated from the University of Southern California in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Bill has been an employee of Steelcase Inc,. a Fortune 500 company, for 23 years with leadership positions in sales and marketing in Seattle, San Francisco and Grand Rapids. Bill retired from Steelcase in 2009 to pursue his non-profit passion of sharing his message of hearing and vision loss as a deaf-blind adventurer and storyteller. Bill has been featured on a number of national and local media outlets including Good Morning America, Outside Magazine, WOODTV 8, Grand Rapids Press, Faith Magazine, Sierra Club Radio and HealthyHearing.com.