The Deafblind Backpacker – Cody Campbell
8 November 2022
Two years ago, Cody struggled coming to terms with his disability. Life as he knew it had changed forever and he wasn’t ready to accept his new life. Now, Cody is in a position where he is truly happy and living the life he didn’t imagine was possible at one stage.
Cody has Retinitis Pigmentosa Usher’s Syndrome Type 2, he is severally hearing impaired, wears hearing aids and is legally blind.
But Cody likes to think of himself as a “self-advocating deafblind backpacker living and working abroad in New Zealand”. He is the kind of person who inspires people. Not because of his disability, but because of his positive perspective on life.
However, it wasn’t an easy journey. “I was no longer a happy person, I was an angry one” Cody says, “I never realised that those things I was afraid of losing were in fact the same things that were holding me back”.
After months of being in denial, Cody left his old life in Canada behind. He says a huge weight was lifted off of his shoulders. In a quest to rediscover who he was in this new life, Cody planned a short trip to New Zealand. He found himself continuously extending his stay from four months, to six months, to one year, and now over three years later he is still here in New Zealand. Cody is always keen for new opportunities so that he can stay here in New Zealand permanently.
Coming to New Zealand pushed Cody to step outside of his comfort zone. It was exactly what he needed at the time. He’s done a variety of different jobs here and there, from working as a fish freezer boat unloader, to landscaping, to volunteering for an environmental disaster clean up.
It wasn’t easy. Cody says at times he was abused, both verbally and physically for his disability. Because of this, he learnt quickly how to advocate for himself. Part of him learning to advocate for himself was becoming confident and conformable using his Identification Cane. Once he overcame his self-consciousness, getting around became much easier.
“My cane provides me with a huge sense of security. It makes embarrassing mistakes okay to make.”
He says it’s become a good conversation starter when he’s at hostels, music festivals, and bars. Many people haven’t met someone who uses a cane. He turns it into an opportunity to not only advocate for himself and other people who are deafblind, but it’s also an opportunity to bring awareness to others and break stereotypes.
Cody is living proof that just because someone is deafblind, it doesn’t mean they can’t go to music festivals or backpacking.
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