A deaf child growing up in a deaf family, Thomas Koch went to deaf school, deaf university and lived in the deaf world. He made his first dive in Austin, Texas, USA in 1996 – that first course sparked Thomas’s passion for the water, so much so that he ultimately became the PADI’s first deaf Course Director, in 2015. “I love to dive with sharks and anywhere I can show others the beauty of the ocean – or any underwater environment I can find,” says Thomas.
Thomas has been instrumental in introducing people who are deaf to diving, and has been growing the community of deaf divers since he became an instructor. To date, he has taught eight new deaf PADI Instructors around the United States. “It truly excites me when I am able to bring deaf people into the world of diving and educate them about the ocean as a certified diver,” he says. Thomas plans to continue training deaf instructors throughout the world so that all deaf people will have the opportunity to learn how to dive. Through his organization, Aqua Hands, deaf and signing hearing participants are always given full access to communication both underwater and above water.
- PADI Elite Instructor (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
- Hosted Fin-a-thon and Dives Against Debris for Project AWARE
- Diver Alert Network Training Recognition Award (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)
- PADI Diver Education of the Month (November 2015 & March 2018)
- First deaf PADI Course Director
- Silver Course Director (2015, 2016)
- PADI Certificate of Recognition for Excellence (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)