Erik using the Brainport device to play tic-tac-toe with his daughter, Emma


The Gift of Education

 I started out my professional life as a 5th grade school teacher at Phoenix Country Day School.  For six years before my adventure and speaking career took off, I taught English and Math, as well as valuable life lessons.  Those experiences have never left me, and I continue to work with educators to help students develop a life vision, pioneer new ideas, and team up with great people.  

  • No Barriers Youth

    Erik helped create a fantastic program for students called No Barriers Youth. High school students with and without disabilities go on trips all over the world that are part adventure and part service project. 

  • Brainport

    For a few years, Erik has been testing a revolutionary device called the Brainport that lets a blind person "see." Mounted on his head is a small video camera which translates visual information to a credit card-size tongue display. Four-hundred tiny pixels present electrical patterns on his tongue, which his brain then interprets as a visual picture in three-dimensional space.

  • Mountains Without Barriers

    This is a film about the 2005 No Barriers Summit held in the Dolomites of Italy. Disabled athletes from around the world came together with companies that make assistive technologies to explore what is possible. 

  • Blind Skier's Edge

    This is an instructional video on the best method for guiding a blind skier. This demonstrates a pioneering technique that allows the visually impaired to ski with good technique and even tackle challenging terrain.

  • Blind and Naked

    This is my hardest climbing route to date - Eldorado Canyon's The Naked Edge - to benefit the Access Fund. Support climbing advocacy and conservation:

  • Beyond the Barriers

    I joined my friends, Mark Wellman - a paraplegic, and Hugh Herr - a double-leg amputee - to take on an 800 foot  classic desert tower in Moab, Utah. Our experience led to the inception of No Barriers, a nonprofit organization which showcases cutting-edge ideas, approaches, and assistive technologies which enable people with challenges to break through personal barriers to live full and adventurous lives. To learn more about No Barriers and its ongoing world class festivals, go to

  • Training Uri

    Check out how I first trained my seeing eye dog, Uri. 

Educational Stories

  • I can't tell you how many emails and text messages I've received from cadets and their parents who have been in touch with me to thank me for getting the "Best speaker EVER at the Academy."  No exaggeration. Cadets have actually called their parents to tell them about Erik and the parents in turn have called or emailed me. Since I know about 80% of the cadets, many have emailed or text me directly to thank me.  Erik was a huge hit. Within minutes after he left, it was all over the Academy Facebook page of how awesome Erik was and how he was by far, the best speaker they've ever had.

    Elena Salinas
    US Coast Guard Academy
  • I am a high school special education teacher in Massachusetts. The curriculum guide is an extremely beneficial tool in teaching English Language Arts.  My class is a language based English class that provides instruction to students with Reading and/or Writing Disabilities.  The curriculum guide makes a very easy way to separate the book into three distinct parts, allowing for appropriate time for tests and/or quizzes.  It also gives great ideas for asking questions and beginning class discussion both prior as well as after reading the sections.  This allows students to be more insightful and as well as offer an opportunity to be reflective.

    The guide also gives great ideas for Projects in the areas of Writing, Research and Geography.  It continues to connect the book to the documentaries and movie and offers project ideas for further learning.  The ideas for prompting students to experience the world without sight are excellent and very appropriate for all ages. 

    Lastly, additional research resources are provided allowing teachers to create their own WebQuests.  The curriculum guide makes reading this exciting and motivating book easier to teach.  It is a valuable tool that came much appreciated.

    Kathy Rogers
    Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School
  • Erik's presentation last evening was absolutely the best and most inspirational NCTM Opening Session I have heard in my many years of attending the organization's conferences. Attendees have stopped me today to say how much they were moved by Erik's comments.

    Carol Edwards
    National Council for Teachers in Mathematics
  • I cannot tell you how many faculty and parents came up to me in the days following your visit to thank me for having you speak to their children. You were the topic of conversation at dozens of dinner tables in Beaufort! Yours is a tremendous story. Your accomplishments alone command respect and interest; the fact that you are blind only makes your story more compelling.

    Woody Rutter
    Headmaster - Beaufort Academy