Rachel Soudakoff, the founder of Deaf Adventures, is on a mission to make New Zealand’s great outdoors more accessible for Deaf individuals. Her pioneering venture aims to provide immersive outdoor experiences exclusively tailored for Deaf and sign language users.
A Vision Realized:
Originally from Los Angeles, Soudakoff has been an avid hiker since childhood. Upon moving to New Zealand in 2021, she was surprised to find a lack of Deaf-owned adventure companies. Determined to fill this void, she founded Deaf Adventures, envisioning a platform to showcase the natural beauty of Aotearoa to Deaf Kiwis.
Deaf Adventures offers meticulously organized trips, complete with trip preparation information, safety briefings, and first-aid, all delivered in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). These excursions provide Deaf individuals with the confidence and resources to explore their own backyard, fostering a sense of empowerment and connection to nature.
Advocacy and Awareness:
In addition to organizing trips, Soudakoff is a passionate advocate for Deaf rights and accessibility. She works tirelessly to educate external companies on Deaf culture and the unique needs of the Deaf community. By promoting awareness and collaboration, she strives to ensure that Deaf individuals can participate fully in outdoor activities without communication barriers.
Challenges and Triumphs:
Despite facing initial reluctance and challenges from some tour companies, Soudakoff remains undeterred. Through persistence and advocacy, she has successfully orchestrated numerous outdoor adventures, including tramping trips and sailing expeditions. Each excursion serves as a testament to the resilience and capabilities of Deaf individuals in the face of adversity.
As Deaf Adventures continues to expand its offerings, Soudakoff remains committed to providing transformative outdoor experiences for Deaf explorers. Through partnerships and innovative initiatives, she aims to broaden access to nature and inspire others to embrace the wilderness as a source of learning and empowerment.
In the world of Deaf Adventures, the great outdoors serves as a universal language, transcending barriers and fostering inclusion. With each journey embarked upon, Deaf individuals discover not only the beauty of nature but also the strength and resilience within themselves. As Soudakoff aptly puts it, “Hiking and going into the wilderness is the one place where the method of communication doesn’t matter.”