The real Batman known as Daniel Kish was born in California and had an aggressive form of cancer called Retinoblastoma which attacks the retinas, by the time he was 13 months old he had both eyes removed to save his life.

Kish uses a term he coined as Flash Sonar, more commonly known to you and I as Echo Location. Yes, the sound waves used by bats, . He does this by clicking his tongue to the roof of his mouth;each click creates reflective sound waves, bouncing off objects enabling him to discern what’s around him.

Kish says he started clicking around the age of 2 and has always used flash sonar to get around, he even refused to use a white cane to navigate as he believed it made him stand out to the public and made him look strange!

Daniel Kish set up World Access for the Blind in 2001, he wanted to counteract the misconceptions that blind people *can’t* do things, he wanted to eliminate the word NO in a blind persons’ vocabulary as he sees it more as a hindrance than a help to them. Since setting up the organisation he has travelled around the world and taught over 500 blind and sighted people alike how to use echo location/flash sonar. Although Kish is not the first person to use echo location, he is the first person to publish academic papers, and teach others how to use it.

Echo location works in 2 ways: our ears are conveniently placed on either side of our head, when there is a noise off to one side, the sound reaches the closest ear about a millisecond before it reaches the other ear. For example, if someone calls your name, it is unlikely you will turn the opposite way from which side they called you.
Secondly, on average, humans have excellent hearing. We hear much better than we see, think about it in this way; we can hear behind us, and around corners. Unless someone has a hearing impairment, a human will never truly be in silence, as you should hear your heart beating or blood pulsing in your ears.

Through his use of flash sonar Kish is able to ride a bike, hike and camp solo. He believes children especially are told “No” too often and aren’t allowed to learn their environment around them because someone always jumps to the rescue before the child “gets hurt”. Through echo location Kish teaches not only blind and partially sighted people who to get around safely, but educates the parent or care-giver how to relinquish control and let the blind child/person make mistakes and learn from them.

My Thoughts

Personally I think Kish’s World Access for the Blind is a fantastic organisation, giving people the freedom and confidence to get around. I do find clicking strange, but that’s because we’ve been brought up in a society that discourages any sort of blindisms that brings attention to the blind person. If you haven’t already read my opinions on blindisms you can check it out here. But, to me, clicking isn’t a blindisms that should be eliminated, it is actually an aid to get blind people around efficiently, and in the case of Daniel, very quickly too.

Would I like to learn echo location to use it out and about in daily life? Probably not, but that’s because I’ve been put off looking / acting like the stereotypical blind person. What i will say is: without realising it I have always used a form of echo location, that Ive called my sixth sense, I can feel the air/ density around me, and even when I could see I could walk around my entire house in the dark without bumping into things because I could feel the space around me.
I’m in no way an expert, because since losing my sight Ive frequently walked into things and crashed about, but I blame that mostly down to lack of concentration on my part. I walk much slower now since I have gone blind, so I try to keep up at a decent pace, and this is usually where the blunders happen.

All blind people do have spacial awareness, but I believe, like Kish, it’s a case of whether the blind person uses it to their advantage and hones in on it. Sighted people alike, can also use their hearing to gain a better spacial awareness, but I think they rely far too heavily on their eyes to give them visual feedback.
The next time you go to the toilet in the middle of the night, try walking in the dark. and not touching the walls, you’ll be surprised at how easily you can manoeuvre if you concentrate!

I hope you enjoyed my ramblings, but I do think Daniel Kish’s message is a great one, if you’d like to listen to his Ted Talk speech click here, I found it very interesting!

What are your thoughts on echo location? Would you learn it, if you could? I’d love to hear your opinions 🙂

Much love, Sassy x

14 comments on “The Real Batman”

  1. This story is amazing. I can’t imagine losing my sight but would hope to have the confidence to use what ever method I needed to still do as much as I possibly can in the world. Stuff whoever wants to look. I meditate pretty often and its true that when you slow down and concentrate, there us so much more to our sense and the world. Thanks for sharing this #bigpinklink

    • Hey Jules,

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment! Yes I agree, when we focus our mind we can hone in on our senses and notice more than we usually would! xxx

    • Hey Dean,

      When I first came across the story I really did think it was quite amazing! I know I shouldn’t have reservations about it, but I suppose it’s human nature, and not wanting to be judged.
      Thanks for the comment! xxx

  2. Thank you so much for sharing. This is very intriguing! I’d absolutely want to learn! I am a person who likes to put myself in other’s shoes in as many situations as possible. Especially those that are misunderstood. I think it really helps to try to gain common ground .

    • Hey!

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment! It”s great that you are the type of person you are, we certainly need more people like you in this world! 🙂

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post! 🙂 xxx

  3. This is absolutely fascinating. The idea that he goes hiking and biking on his own, simply by using this method is amazing to me. I would be terrified to even think about going off on my own without my sight, but obviously that is because I’m used to having it. I would love to learn how to echo locate though. I think it’s so interesting and the fact that it can open so many doors to people that would otherwise by closed is wonderful. Thanks for linking up. #bigpinklink

    • hey!

      Yes, I agree with you completely! I find it daunting not walking anywhere outside of my home without my cane, it fascinates me that he is so truly independent!
      Thanks so much for having me! 🙂 xxx

  4. I listened to a radio programme on this once. It’s fascinating! It was probably kish talking about it but if it wasn’t him this person was trying to teach the seeing presenter how to do it with painful results! It is fascinating how people adapt and learn new skills to cope, including yourself. I regularly do dark toilet trips in the night!

    • Hey Karen!

      Yes it may well have been Kish, he does a lot of talks/ interviews, as he is the only person who teaches echo location.
      Haha, oh dear, I would like to hear this interview just because I want to see how badly it went 😉

      Glad you do toilet trips in the dark! I bet your hearing is heightened 🙂

      Thank you for leaving a comment! xxx

  5. Thank you for sharing this, it’s so interesting! I think it’s amazing what people can achieve and I definitely don’t believe we appreciate all the capabilities our body has until we are faced with a difficulty. I think I’d be very interested to try it but I understand what you are saying about it being a bit strange! #BloggerClubUK

    • Hey Ellen,

      You are totally right! I don’t believe we give ourselves or our body enough credit for all the hard work it does!
      Our body constantly fights for survival but it’s our brain and cognitive process that worry and stress about continuing when we face a difficulty/ negative!

      Thanks for your lovely comment! 🙂 xxx

  6. I find it amazing that he started learning this at 2! How brilliant is that, and it all sounds very interesting although I can imagine it takes a long time to learn. Thank you for joining us at #BloggerClubUK hope to see you again this week x

    • Hey,

      Yes it truly is amazing according to studies I have read, it’s our parents/ carers/ teachers that stop these skills from developing because it looks and sounds strange.

      I think echo location is a fantastic tool, but I also believe that unless it is for navigating purposes such as this, most blind children start acting differently by that age, and unfortunately it’s not always beneficial to the blind child, who grows up to be an adult. xxx

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