“HDNet World Report” Features a Blind Man Using Sound To See

Colette Carey
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“HDNet World Report” Features a Blind Man Using Sound To See

After losing his eyesight to an aggressive eye cancer, Daniel Kish has pioneered the use of echolocation to “see,” and now he’s sharing this gift with others-Tuesday, July 19 at 9:00 p.m. ET

DALLAS (July 18, 2011) – Tomorrow night, “HDNet World Report,” the network’s Emmy Award-winning news program, will introduce viewers to an extraordinary person, Daniel Kish, a blind man who is using echolocation to pilot his life. It is the same technique that bats use to fly in the dark and dolphins use to navigate the oceans. Daniel teaches echolocation to other blind people, and hopes to convince the large organizations that advocate for the blind to adopt echolocation as a tool for independence.

Daniel was born with an aggressive form of eye cancer called retinal blastoma. By the time he was 13 months old both of his eyes were removed. While he “sees” nothing, he uses echolocation to do almost everything a sighted person can. “Every environment has its own acoustical signature,” Daniel explains. He can describe his surroundings in precise detail, like the shapes of trees, seemingly random objects like light poles and bus kiosks; he even can hike and camp in the woods by himself.

Echolocation uses sound that is first emitted by Daniel and then reflected back to him from the objects or people around him. Daniel makes a precise clicking sound with his tongue, and listens for how long the sound takes to bounce back to him. That tells him how far away something is. He also listens to the subtle time differences of when sound enters each of his ears. That tells him the direction of the object.

Daniel’s life work is now centered on giving other blind people the same independence echolocation has given him, but some organizations like the National Federation of the Blind believe the use of echolocation is too complicated for most blind people to master.

Kish disagrees, saying, “There is an element of it [echolocation] that can be seen as threatening because it faces the blindness field with a challenge to rise to a higher standard. There is also a position ‘if it ain’t broke why fix it, so we’ve been doing it this way for 50-60 years, why change?'”

View a clip from the program:

To learn more about Daniel’s incredible use of echolocation, tune into “HDNet World Report,” Tuesday, July 19 at 9:00 p.m. ET with an encore at 12:00 a.m. ET.

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