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Echolocation pioneer visits Birmingham

UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 29 OCTOBER 2013

A blind man who uses clicking noises to detect obstacles has been demonstrating his skills here in Birmingham.

Daniel Kish, who has been unable to see for most of his life, has spent two days at Birmingham City University demonstrating echolation, which is a form of sonar. Daniel makes a ‘click’ and he listens for an ‘echo’ which he uses to determine how near an object is. The technique is similar to that used by bats when they fly around in the dark.

Californian-based Daniel has been using echolocation since childhood and teaches it across the globe. He said: “Research has shown that, without teaching, around ten per cent of blind people develop the skills of echolocation to an advanced degree while around 50 per cent develop some rudimentary degree. That may be something like knowing they are in a corridor or enclosed space. But with teaching, echolocation can be developed and refined much further.”

Daniel’s workshops ran on Monday 1 and Wednesday 3 March and he was invited to the University by Johanna Hook, Senior Lecturer in Rehab work Rehabilitation (Visual Impairment). As part of the two day workshop Daniel taught echolocation to pupils from New College, Worcester, a residential school for young people with visual impairments. Jo Hook said: “It was a great opportunity for our Foundation Degree in Rehabilitation (Visual Impairment) students to experience first-hand how Daniel teaches echolocation.

“Daniel is in great demand globally and we are lucky he could fit a visit to Birmingham into his schedule. Daniel’s reputation is so high I’ve advised my students to mention on their CVs that they attended a workshop run by him.”

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