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Meet Kyle Schulze, the Deaf Ninja on show ‘American Ninja Warrior’

Kyle Schulze is constantly overcoming obstacles. Literally, as he is an obstacle athlete, best known on the show NBC show America Ninja Warrior. He is also deaf and goes by the nickname ‘Deaf Ninja’.

Schulze started his obstacle training at age 22. His first race was a mud race, where he discovered the love for the sport. From then on he started competing in more races and began rock climbing, which plays a vital role in his training. His hard work paid off when he made it to “American Ninja Warrior.”

Being an American Ninja Warrior

He was on the show in July 2017. Schulze called his “American Ninja Warrior” experience as exhilarating, terrifying, fun and challenging, and felt an overwhelming amount of emotion. While he was performing he had 15 cameras filming him, a live audience and a challenge course. Although the pressure was tremendous, Schulze loved and it would do it again.

Schulze described the energy of the live audience, “I loved every minute of it, it was so much fun and without my hearing aids, I could feel the energy of the crowd. I didn’t need to hear their chants or cheers, but it was the energy I felt from them.”

Training with a hearing loss

Schulze was born with a bilateral profound hearing loss, but it wasn’t discovered until he was three years old. He received his first pair of hearing aids and learned American Sign Language. After 16 years of speech therapy, Schulze now uses multiple modes of communication including, speech, lip-reading and ASL.

Schulze says,“I still have issues understanding anyone talk, I catch about 35 percent verbally, 40-60 percent lipreading, and combined giving me 70-85 percent understanding verbally. To this day, I consider both English and sign language to be my primary form of communication.”

When Schulze is training he keeps his hearing aids on to help him hear his climbing partner. He has trouble hearing his co-workers, coaches, and partners while training, but relies on observing to learn technique and how to improve his moves to complete the obstacles. During competitions, he does not wear his hearing aids.

Read more: How to handle communication in water sports when the hearing devices come off

Schulze is also spreading hearing loss awareness through attending events and camps for hard of hearing children in Illinois and Indiana. He is spreading his positive attitude about achieving your goals regardless of the challenges you may face.

“I grew up frustrated with people not being flexible with my being hard of hearing, and I spent a lot of years trying to fix that. I want to be able to use my position to help the world accept and understand our struggles,” says Schulze. 

“I want to be able to use my position to help the world accept and understand our struggles.”

Schulze is looking for improvements to be made for the deaf and hard of hearing community in terms of accessibility and equality in the workplace. He wants to make this change by spreading hearing loss awareness through his training and coaching.

“To be able to help the world be able to freely function in the world better than I did when I was growing up, would be a tremendous improvement for all deaf and hard of hearing kids across the world,” says Schulze.

Schulze will continue to train and speak out about his hearing loss. He hopes to qualify for another chance to be on American Ninja Warrior.

Follow Kyle Schulze on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with his ninja training!