What it is like to be a bat (echolocation for the blind)

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Rising popularity of bat-like echolocation helping more blind people see through sound

Quote:The technique has gained popularity with the help of American Daniel Kish, who has been nicknamed "the batman" and went blind when he was 13.

His ability to read sounds has allowed him to ride a bike without any sight, and go bushwalking by himself.

His training is now being rolled out in Adelaide for the first time by the Royal Society for the Blind, allowing the vision-impaired to see through sound.

Instructor Gayle McPherson admits she was a little sceptical of the technique at first "because it wasn't really something that our initial training was focused on".

But as she learnt off Mr Kish when he visited Adelaide, she realised that the bat-like vision could change the world of someone who could not see.

"It actually enables people to engage with the world in a way that you just can't do with a cane," Ms McPherson said.

"[The objects] are all varying distances away so it's the rate with which that comes back, and the quality of the sonar [sound] that comes back, that eventually you build up an encyclopedia back here.

"Echolocation is just as important as a long cane. Long cane is great for somebody who has just lost their vision to help them to stop falling down.

"The echolocation actually let's them see the world around them."

As an animal liberationist, I like the implications of this technique for the liberation of guide dogs from a life of slavery, but it's generally just a fascinating aspect of human experience and potential.
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