Tony Giles
  Photo: Tony Giles

Tony Giles – Blind and Deaf Around the World

Despite his blindness and deafness, Tony Giles has been traveling the world for more than 20 years. He explains to us that a happy life also has a lot to do with the head.

At the young age of 9 months, Tony was diagnosed with a genetic impairment of his eyesight. When he was 6 years old, it turned out that he was 80% deaf in both ears. Tony learned to cope with everyday life with his hearing aid and the white cane. At Exhall Grange School in Coventry, West Midlands, where he completed pre-college education, Tony made friends with children who were similar.

When his best friend died of a muscle disease shortly after his father’s death, he tried to distract himself from grieving with excessive study and alcohol. Tony graduated from high school, studied math, biology and eventually British history in Northampton.

Documentation about Tony Giles on YouTube

He then studied for a few months in the USA and toured California with a fellow student. “Studying for the blind is extremely difficult because there are hardly any academic texts available in Braille,” says Tony. But he wanted to make it to a normal university, like everyone else.

More than 130 countries in 20 years

And he succeeded. In 2001 he finished his studies in American Studies, two years later he had his master’s degree in transatlantic studies. In 2001 and 2002 Tony traveled through Australia on his own, visiting New Zealand, Vietnam and Thailand. 2004 he went on what he claims to be an “epic backpacking trip” through North and South America, Cuba, Mexico and South Africa. He hiked through the Rocky Mountains and Canada, visited Germany (including my home in Trier, by the way) and Italy. In 2008 he was in the Arctic Circle, underwent a kidney transplant a few weeks later because his only worked 11%.

Tony doing a bungee jump

To date Tony has traveled to more than 130 countries, has already bungee jumped, almost drowned in Africa and lives with his family in Teignmouth (GB) by the sea. However, he is far from having enough: He would like to see the whole world and try out as many things as possible.

We had the pleasure to exchange a few words with Tony and wanted to know what his advice is for a happy life:

“I’m Tony Giles from England, totally blind and severely deaf, yet I live life, and so should you. Go on, get up and do it, give it ago, put one foot in front of the other and challenge yourself. Find something you enjoy and have a go. Life is short so live your dreams, that’s what I’m doing :).”

Tony Giles

The BBC Travelshow recently dedicated its own record to him. He has also recorded his inspiring story in several e-books. Interested parties can also follow his travels at www.tonythetraveller.com.

In a nutshell

Happiness is often a matter of the mind. Tony Giles shows us it in an impressive way. Life is always up and down, but it is up to us what we make of it.

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