Echolocation

Recently I have been listening to a lot of podcasts, and I particularly like “Invisibilia” about the “invisible forces that shape human behaviour!“. Although it might sound cheesy and paranormal, it’s not. The journalists try to scientifically fundament all wierd things that happen like living with no sense of fear, or synesthesia.

One of the first episodes was about Daniel Kish, who uses echolocation to move around – and he moves a lot. At the age of 13 months he was diagnosed with retinal cancer, and had both eyes removed. Nevertheless, his education was no different because of that. He ran, fell, biked, climbed trees, harmed himself like all kids do, because he could see, but he saw differently.

Since he was little he started using echolocation to move in space. He would click with his tongue – a common reflex in blind babies – as if removing peanut butter from the top of his mouth.

These sounds would leave his mouth and move through space, reflect in surfaces and the echo which came back would be defined by these surfaces. The echo became his eyes, and he became able to notice differences in tree density, materials (metal from wood, for example), etc.

Daniel has founded World Access for the Blind, and he teaches blind people how to be independent via echolocation and other unorthodox methods. He believes blind associations are ran like charity associations. They help in the wrong way, removing autonomy and overprotecnting the blind.

He didn’t invent echolocation (other people used it before) but he popularized the technique and fought against the idea that clicking with the tongue in order to move was not socially acceptable (like his teacher said!).

 

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