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Simon Wheatcroft

Tech pioneer, endurance runner and award-winning educator, Simon Wheatcroft, refuses to let blindness hold him back. Whether he is competing in ultra-marathons, climbing mountains or teaching students in the classroom, he combines the use of technology and his fundamental belief and trust in his own abilities and body to overcome what many would consider insurmountable barriers and achieve his goals.

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About Simon Wheatcroft

Born with a genetic eye disorder (Retinitis Pigmentosa) that resulted in him becoming blind at 17, Simon’s journey towards achieving the impossible started when he headed to California with the intention of climbing a mountain and proposing to his girlfriend. Having never climbed or hiked up a mountain before, Simon’s view was: how hard can it be?

Biography

While he managed to propose to his girlfriend (halfway up the mountain), the summit remained elusive as it was too dangerous for him to continue to the top. For the first time in his life, Simon quit because he couldn’t see. It wasn’t the difficulty of the mountain; it was his lack of vision that defeated him on the day. Returning to the UK, he vowed never to quit again because he was unable to see. Now all he needed was a new challenge.

Making use of technology, Simon began a remarkable journey of learning to run outdoors totally unaided aside from the Smartphone app RunKeeper and his remaining senses as a guide. Over a period of seven months, he went from running between the goalposts on a football field to his first race of over 100 miles. Partnering with leading technology firms and using social media to find running partners, Simon has gone on to run marathons and ultra-marathons.

In 2014, he decided that the 26.2 mile New York City marathon wasn’t enough, so he decided to start the race in Boston – over 250 miles away! Since then, Simon has continued to test the boundaries of what is humanly possible – becoming the first ever blind person to run solo the 4 Deserts Marathon in Namibia in May 2016.

Simon leverages his experience of working with leading technology firms (IBM, MIT, and Google) to create the next generation of inclusive technology that will continue to enable himself and others to achieve what many bystanders would consider unattainable. Always working to ensure the provided solutions address true needs and account for future implications, Simon has created such diverse technology as robotic control systems for individuals with motor neurone disease, AI machine learning switching systems, and the sonification of data analysis. He has also improved the inclusivity and diversity of the hackathon scene by creating hackcessible – a user-led accessible hackathon event.

Simon’s unique blend of ferocious drive, along with his background in technology and psychology, enables him to push the boundaries of possibility and challenge audiences to explore what they can achieve. He entered the classroom to motivate the next generation of technology pioneers, and within a year, his classroom teaching was identified as outstanding. This led to Simon winning the Pearson National Teaching Gold award for Outstanding New Teacher.

Simon continues to push the boundaries in the classroom and work in challenging schools to help the next generation of tech pioneers. Simon hopes he can inspire students to create incredible technology that can change what individuals are capable of.

Simon’s incredible achievements have garnered significant media attention worldwide. He regularly features on TV – with special features on the CBS News Sunday Morning Live programme and BBC Click – and in the news, including a feature article in the New York Times after becoming the first blind man to run the New York Marathon solo.

Speech Topics

Simon’s keynotes include but are not limited to:

  1. Running the line: understand how technology can be used and adapted to expand the realm of possibility for all and how the obstacles affecting a visually impaired person can be used to create a product to benefit the general public.

 

  1. Diversity in technology: understand how developing and adapting technology can break down barriers, increase diversity and create better solutions within a problem-solving community.

 

  1. Quitting and Failure: learn how to identify the delicate balance between what truly defines quitting vs failure and what can be learnt from adversity and failure and how it can result in a positive conclusion.

 

  1. Understanding the end goal: how working backwards allows you assess potential risks and then strip down and simplify life into achievable tasks and ambitions.

 

  1. Teamwork, leadership, and motivation: how to put together the best team for the job and use your vision to inspire them to achieve things they never thought possible.

 

  1. Excellence in the classroom – Simon has created an incredibly unique classroom environment that merges technology to bridge gaps and work seamlessly to overcome barriers.
Booking Information

Testimonials

"Simon spoke at Google's flagship Think Performance conference for C-level execs and simply stole the show with his moving and memorable stories of how advances in tech, specifically smartphones and now Google Glass, allows him to achieve his extraordinary goals."

Brocklehurst, Product Marketing, Google

"We invited Simon to speak out our annual UK & Ireland conference. His amazing journey and experiences truly inspired the team and made them think more deeply about their own untapped inner strengths. Simon delivered his speech with great humility and humor that only made it more powerful and resonate more strongly with the audience. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Simon as a motivational speaker"

Ed Couchman, Facebook

"I can honestly say that Simon is one of the most inspiring speakers we have ever had at our events, and we’ve been doing this for 15 years with the likes of Bill Gates and Stephen Fry on stage. Simon tell his incredible story of determination and endurance using new technologies to enable him to do more and go even further."

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Simon Wheatcroft News

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