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"How a Blind Man Uses Sonar to See Like a Bat!"

How Daniel Kish's Blindness Led to the Development of Echolocation

By Abdul Hannan SaifPublished 2 months ago 3 min read

Daniel Kish lost his sight to a rare form of cancer called retinoblastoma when he was only 13 months old. His eyes had to be removed due to the cancer, and throughout his entire life, Daniel never really saw the world the way that most of us do. However, his blindness also allowed him to appreciate the world far more than most people would.

Daniel has a unique ability to use echolocation to see and sense his surroundings. He discovered this ability when he was two years old, and he can make clicking sounds with his tongue to map his environment. This helps him identify where he is and what is around him, and the volume of the clicks changes depending on the location.

When he was younger, Daniel used this skill to explore his neighborhood and even ventured a few blocks away from his house. His parents and the police had to bring him back. Echolocation is not unusual, as animals like bats, dolphins, and whales use it to navigate and find food in their environment.

Daniel calls his ability "flash sonar," and it is similar to the superhero Daredevil's powers, but without the violence. Echolocation is a natural ability that some people have and can be very helpful.

Humans use echolocation in two ways. Our ears are positioned on the sides of our heads, so when there is sound coming from the side, it reaches one ear before the other. This helps us quickly determine the sound and its source without needing to see it. We hear sounds in 3D, which helps us create an auditory map of our surroundings. For example, if we hear someone call our name in a crowd, we can easily turn in their direction.

The second way echolocation works is that humans can hear better than they can see, even with perfect vision. Our brains can process sound better than visual information. We can hear a range of 10 octaves, while even the sharpest eyes can't see the ultraviolet or infrared spectrum.

Daniel chose to attend regular schools and received a 4.0 average in high school. He never realized that he was behaving unconventionally for a blind person, as he attended a mainstream school with extra support and was never bullied.In fact, his ability to navigate by clicking won him praise. By the time he graduated high school, Daniel was voted most likely to succeed, and he did.

During college, Daniel learned how to harness his echolocation ability. Despite what you may think, he doesn't click uncontrollably to get around. He uses his clicks sparingly and adapts to his surroundings. He's learned to control the volume of his clicks to avoid annoyance and still process information with great accuracy.

Daniel is amazing at echolocation. He can make a loud sound to figure out what's around him and even spot buildings from far away. He can tell the difference between different types of vehicles, which is why he's so good at riding his bike and navigating through traffic. He taught himself how to ride by staying close to a wall and using echolocation to keep himself on track. He got so good that he could even find exits in crowded places faster than people who use their eyes.

Daniel has a master's degree in developmental psychology and special education. He's interested in how children learn and develop, especially if they're at risk. In 2000, he started a nonprofit called World Access for the Blind. Its goal is to help people with blindness all over the world. They use positive psychology, person-centered instruction, and public education to help people live the best lives they can.

But even with him being a primary example, it has always been an uphill battle to have his methods accepted by mainstream organizations that aid the visually impaired, especially educating and raising children who are sight-impaired. Daniel does admit that learning echolocation is not easy, only about 10% of those who learn it have their abilities enriched. He still maintains that echolocation is worth the steep learning curve.


About the Creator

Abdul Hannan Saif

Blogger | Writer | Explorer | wish to inspire, inform and help others to see fascinating discoveries and live a fulfilled life!

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