The Daniel Kish Story
It wasn't until Daniel Kish that the practice of human echolocation gained a fair amount of exposure even though the concept was over a hundred years old.
Daniel is a blind man who works with others who share similar ailments, and is also the first totally blind person to ever to hold both the COMS and NOMC certifications in Orientation and Mobility, and he has also obtained Master's degrees in Developmental Psychology and Special Education.
He is the president of the non-profit organization known as World Access for the Blind and has worked with over 500 blind students over the course of his career. He specializes in dealing with those who are deaf-blind, autistic or suffering from perceptual processing disorders.
Daniel Kish also has experience in neural science, biomechanics, perception and communication and has worked with many reputable therapists and specialists for each of these areas.
Echolocation is the process by which certain animals (such as microbats and dolphins) use a sort of built in sonar in order to “see” their environment with sound. They send out sounds, which bounce off the objects and creatures around them. Then they interpret the echo and use it to get a reading of what's in the vicinity.
This technique can be used for locating prey and navigating through dark areas. It isn't considered so remarkable when animals do it, because we've all heard about bats catching food without being able to see well, but what's interesting is that humans can reproduce this effect as well. It's not incredibly common, but a number of people have practiced the art of human echolocation to such an extent that it effectively replaces their need for vision.
Sure enough, many of the people who have mastered this technique also suffer from blindness. It goes without saying that you must Protect Your Eyesight, but it's still astonishing what the body can be trained to do in its absence.
Human echolocation isn't really a new thing. A traveler named James Holman was known to have employed the technique in his extensive adventures to various countries.
By striking the ground with his cane and listening to the echoes produced, he was able to deduce what was around him in much the same way as bats and dolphins. Sometimes he would even listen for echoes made by the clopping of horse hooves, which proved just as effective. The comic book character Daredevil possesses a similar power, able to discern his surroundings entirely by ear.
Daniel Kish utilizes an echolocation method similar to Holman's. Using a cane—which is also helpful in aiding his mobility—he makes a series of taps and reads the echoes to identify the things around him. He has demonstrated the technique to numerous blind people and has studied extensively on the nature of echolocation and its use to human beings with Problems with Eyesight.
He has formulated training for blind students, teaching them how to utilize echolocation for their own convenience, and has even invented a device that produces the clicking noises needed for echolocation without the use of a cane.
Daniel Kish is just one of many people such as Ben Underwood who have used their minds to solve seemingly unrepairable problems, and has overcome their blindness and have managed to live out a successful, normal life; proof that people with disabilities needn't be pitied or looked down on.
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