Seeing With Sound - Using Flash Sonar Article
How I came to know flash sonar
The first time I heard about FlashSonar, or better known as Echo Location, I didn’t believe that it could be true.
Yeh, a few weirdo blind guys, I thaught.
But I was wrong, because, quite quickly, I found out exactly what it could do!
So what is Flash sonar?
Bats use Flash Sonar, or Echo Location, because of their low vision, to avoid trees, walls, and to spot pray.
They make a clicking/squeeling-sound which form echo’s, bouncing off objects.
The echo returns, and the brain process the information gained from the environment to see what objects there are around, and how to interact with it.
The first record of blind people using this skill, was in the 1700’s.
But Daniel Kish “44” developed this skill from bearth, and is tutoring blind children and adults to use it.
So how do blind people use it?
Blind people use a sharp tung click, ideal to form clear echo’s, which will bounce off objects, and prevent them from walking into walls.
Sadly, most blind people, when losing their eyesight, form their own way of Echo Location, mostly finger-clicking, hands-clapping, or foot-stomping to find information from the environment.
These forms of Sonar aren’t that clear as the sharp tung clicks.
Images are formed in the brain of the shape perceived from the clicks.
Example: Scanning from the left to the right a certain image can be formed as thus:
It is an object, sounds solid, begins low, then goes higher, flattens, and then lowers down again.
According to this shape, we can know that it is a car.
Or, something thin and solid starts from the ground, then goes up and up, then something is still there, but more wider and sparcer.
Objects can be perceived, according to the following criteria’s:
1) The texsture: how solid is it. Solid or sparce;
2) how big is it: high or low, thin or wide;
3) how far is it: near or far;
A loud click is used to hear a building fifty meters away for instance.
But, if a wall is a few meters away, one can click very softly, if you want to find the door or something for instance.
What’s the limits?
This skill has empowered so many blind people, that it is no longer necessary for them to be guided by sighted people.
Daniel Kish says that blind people should only be guided in rare cases, for instance a dangerous place to navigate around.
The ideal mobility aid than one can use together with this skill, is the use of a full-length cane, which enables the person to be even more aware of his/her environment.
According to Daniel, the sky is the limit.
And, demonstrating that, he and his team go on hikes, and mountain-biking all over the place etc.
Daniel has learnt to navigate small and difficult bush paths, and, when he was little, explored neighbour’s yards, and rode bicycle in his neighbourhood.
Daniel taught me to use this skill, and already I enjoy walking on my own, and if I had enough money, would have baught myself a bicycle long ago.
Flash Sonar is a skill and topic not well-known to the world, and to most blind people.
Therefore Daniel and his organisation, World Access for the Blind does workshops all over the world.
It is an enriching experience, which opens one’s eyes, literally, and is amazing to see blind children develop new skills to have freedom and independence.
For more information, visit: