Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Using sound to see the world around you

16 Feb 2016Daniel Kish's eyes were removed when he was just 13 months old. However that hasn't hurt his ability to perceive the world around him. When you watch Daniel move around you notice that he repeatedly makes a clicking noise with his tongue.

Why you ask? So he can see what's around him.

Much like a bat or a dolphin, Daniel is able to tell what is around him using a process called echolocation. Sending out a sound and listening how the sound bounces off surfaces in the environment. This tells him how close something is, and what direction it is.

Daniel calls this process Flash Sonar, and he has taught it to people all around the world.

When asked what Flash Sonar can do that our eyes can't, he states three advantages.
  • He can see 360 around him

  • He can see around corners

  • He can see through surfaces

He sounds quite remarkable doesn't He? Not according to Daniel and I agree with his reason why. The way he puts it, everyone uses their brain to solve challenges and process what they see. He uses his brain to see just like everyone else. He just processes the information in a different way.

This a perfect example of a can do ability. Work with what you have and keep moving forward.

The thought of losing my eyesight is quite terrifying as I imagine it is to most people. Going from a world where you can easily interact with everything around you, to a world of darkness sounds scary. This is exactly what Daniel aims to address. Being blind isn't something to be feared. He certainly doesn't look worried or scared about not being able to see, and it hasn't hurt his mobility.

Daniels message to everyone is that impressions about blindness are far more threatening to blind people than the blindness itself. Our fear of being blind inhibits our understanding of blind people.

You should watch this video. Daniel is articulate and gives a great talk about what his world is like, speaking about flash sonar and giving demonstrations so you can experience it yourself.

How I use sonar to navigate the world.

If you want to read more about how Daniel teaches the blind to see using Flash Sonar, here are some articles about him helping other people.

Navigating blind: eight days that changed my life

The blind boy who learned to see with sound

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