Daniel Kish: How I use sonar to navigate the world

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Daniel Kish (born 1966 in Montebello, California ) is an American expert in human echolocation and President of World Access for the Blind, a non-profit founded in 2000 to facilitate “the self-directed achievement of people with all forms of blindness” and increase public awareness about their strengths and capabilities. Kish and his organization have taught echolocation to at least 500 blind children around the world. Kish, who has been blind since he was 13 months old, is the first totally blind person to be a legally Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) and to hold a National Blindness Professional Certification (NOMC). He also holds masters degrees in developmental psychology and special education.
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Kish’s work has inspired a number of scientific studies related to human echolocation. In a 2009 study at the University of Alcalá in Madrid, ten sighted subjects were taught basic navigation skills within a few days. The study aimed to analyze various sounds which can be used to echo-locate and evaluate which were most effective. In another study, MRI brain scans were taken of Kish and another echolocation expert to identify the parts of the brain involved in echolocation, with readings suggesting “that brain structures that process visual information in sighted people process echo information in blind echolocation experts
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Daniel Kish lost both eyes to retinal cancer. Driven by fearless curiosity, he taught himself to navigate by clicking his tongue and listening for echoes — a method science calls echolocation, and that Kish calls FlashSonar.
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In 2000, Kish founded World Access for the Blind as a platform to teach FlashSonar, along with other methods that the blind can use to “see” and that the sighted can use to expand their awareness. Kish and many researchers believe that echolocation produces images similar to sight, and allows the visually impaired to transcend the limited expectations of society.

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Daniel Kish expands the perceptual toolbox of both blind and sighted humans by teaching echolocation — the ability to observe our surroundings via sound.

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