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BOOK INFORMATION FROM AMERICAN PRINTING HOUSE FOR THE BLIND

TITLE: Echolocation and FlashSonar 

Click Here to Order / Note: A braille edition is available as a free download at this link.

Echolocation and FlashSonar provides research, case examples, instructional approaches, and practice exercises that can, combined with long Perception Cane use, can lead to mastery of SonarVision.

This guidebook, written by Daniel Kish and Jo Hook, provides instructional strategies for teaching persons who are blind and visually impaired who are working independently.

Although Echolocation and FlashSonar works well as an instructional manual for O&M specialists, it can also be used by adults who are blind or visually impaired and who are not working with rehabilitation professionals.

An extensive list of references and resources is provided for the reader.

Topics addressed in this guidebook include:

  • What is Echolocation?
  • How the Brain Develops and Operates
  • Optimizing Learning Conditions
  • How do I Teach FlashSonar to Myself and Others?
  • FlashSonar Exercises
  • The Importance of Echolocation and Future Research

Warning: SonarVision skills should be practiced with a full-length cane, and if needed, a human or dog guide.

Photo of Daniel Kish on stage at the global TED Conference in Vancouver.

A REVIEW OF “ECHOLOCATION AND FLASHSONAR”

“Individuals who cannot see, who have learned to navigate autonomously, hold the key to their own safe and effective navigational skills. It is they who need to teach the sighted, about their blind referenced norms, perceptions, and abilities, in favour of sight referenced criteria. “Echolocation and Flash Sonar” does exactly that.”

 

Gordon N Dutton, MD, FRCOphthal, FRCS
Emeritus Professor of Visual Science
Glasgow Caledonian University
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gordon_Dutton2

Book Review: “Echolocation And Flashsonar” by Daniel Kish and Jo Hook 

REVIEWER: Gordon N Dutton, MD, FRCOphthal, FRCS
Emeritus Professor of Visual Science
Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland

The book “Echolocation and Flash Sonar” by Daniel Kish and Jo Hook, is a unique, compelling and comprehensive read. It is the culmination of a lifetime’s experience of using echolocation as an effective tool for environmental recognition and navigation, as well as over 20 years’ professional experience, successfully teaching worldwide, the requisite skills, to great numbers of blind students, and professionals working with those who are blind.

Since publication of definitive proof that, for echolocation users, echoic sound is processed in the visual cortex of the brain, effectively according alternative vision to the user (Thaler et al, 2011), it is clearly important that this skill is taught internationally to those who cannot see. “Echolocation and Flash Sonar” is a definitive manual that provides core training material and methodologies for everyone looking after and teaching blind children, not least the Orientation and Mobility profession. It is also a fascinating read for anyone wishing to learn about the acoustic worlds of blind people.

Human echolocation as a means of successful navigation by those who are blind, is not a new topic. Sporadic reports from as early as the mid 1700s, of their ability to characterise and navigate through their environment using sound, are succinctly reviewed and are fascinating to read. 

Echolocation skills involve both passive and active methodologies. The sounds of footfall, or tapping of a cane, provide a ‘mild’ unfocused passive imagery, while active echolocation signals made with the intent of studying the surrounding soundscape can provide a clearer, more focused mental imagery akin to vision, coincident with the makeup of the surroundings.. In this way, those without sight can be helped to develop their intrinsic skills to explore their worlds within their own terms of reference.

Visual recognition is brought about by matching what we see with what we have mentally stored, likewise for echolocation skills, with respect to the identity, size and location of surrounding items, and their relationship to one another. Yet this can be a hard won skill, whereby echoic auditory patterns take on progressively more meaning with experience, particularly when enabled by skilled training targetted at focussing the learner’s attention upon optimal interpretation of what they are perceiving. Such skill once gained, continues to develop in quality and calibre as time goes by, particularly for those successfully encouraged to apply focused self-directed effort.

Just as it can take time to recognise faces and new places, echolocation is a facility that grows in quality and calibre as time goes by. Many learners experience an ‘aha moment’ during their early training, when everything starts to make sense. The use of intermittent, louder active echolocation signals provides the observer with an overall perspective of the wider and more distant environment, akin to the wider visual field, whereas targeting with more frequent, lower volume signals allows the observer’s attention to be given to the location, size and identity of elements of the acoustic scene, akin to central vision. This second element is refered to as Flash Sonar by Daniel Kish, as it creates short-term mental imagery that subsequently fades. 

For those with sight, the visual brain processes the incoming picture in two main ways. It identifies, and it locates. Identification is largely a conscious process, while localisation of the elements of the scene, guides our movement, and is largely an unconscious process. (When a sighted person runs down a staircase, the location of each step does not reach consciousness.) In like manner, echolocation serves both functions. The conscious process of isolating a singular entity will locate a 9 inch item from a distance of 18 inches, but the less conscious remarkable process that allows the skilled blind practitioner to cycle along a country path, has a fluidic nature, accurately and successfully guiding the user, that defies such analysis as it is not static and takes place in real time through a form of automatic simultaneous mental processing that has yet to be characterised.

This book provides a wealth of technical information such as teaching how to compensate for environmental variables such as wind and rain, or a cluttered environment. For people who are blind, the brain re-wires. Major neuroplastic changes take place that change the brain’s functional pathways. When teaching echolocation to learners, the authors employ a questioning strategy to encourage and enable the echolocation learner to probe, understand and characterise their own perceptions, and so to learn through problem solving, rather than being told what to expect and what to do. In this way learning becomes self-directed. As for mastering all skills, enhanced experiential learning trumps learning through didactic teaching any day, especially when the learning is family centred, yet not overly protective! 

The authors highlight that for the child who is learning, the panoply of skills needed for successful safe navigation, and safe progressive exploration of the environment, without the intrusion of a sight based philosophical construct of risk, is essential. “It is not a collection of skills that makes perception happen; it is perception that compels skills to develop, as circumstances require.” The idea that vision is a pre-requisite for navigation tends to be fixed within the mindset of the sighted, (with little recognition that the brains of those without sight from birth, have the capacity to develop differently), and it is this vision base self referenced criterion, when imposed upon those who cannot see, that can, well meaningly, culminate in long term dependency. 

Having had the privilege to meet a number of individuals whose lives have been transformed by the independence and freedom that training in echolocation and flash sonar provides, I have myself changed from being a sceptic to a zealot. Just because I’m unable to echolocate, does not mean that others cannot. Training in echolocation, in  a way that is complementary to training in orientation and long cane skills, needs to be available worldwide for those who cannot see. It is life changing. The comprehensive information provided in “Echolocation and Flash Sonar” once mastered, and practiced provides the wherewithal to bring this about.

Individuals who cannot see, who have learned to navigate autonomously, hold the key to their own safe and effective navigational skills. It is they who need to teach the sighted, about their blind referenced norms, perceptions, and abilities, in favour of sight referenced criteria. “Echolocation and Flash Sonar” does exactly that.

Reference

Thaler L, Arnott SR, Goodale MA. Neural correlates of natural human echolocation in early and late blind echolocation experts. PLoS One. 2011;6(5):e20162.

Photo of Dr. Gordon Dutton, Emeritus Professor of Visual Science, Glasgow Caledonian University.

Gordon N Dutton, MD, FRCOphthal, FRCS

Emeritus Professor of Visual Science
Glasgow Caledonian University April 1986 – Present (+32 years)

From LinkedIn: “During my tenure as a Consultant Ophthalmologist working at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow, for over 20 years we researched a wide range of subjects (qv: PubMed – Dutton GN). The commonest cause of visual impairment seen, was cerebral visual impairment, and this latterly became a major focus of academic studies in our department.”

In addition to his work at Glasgow Caledonian University, Professor Dutton is also an Advisor and Contributor to CVI Scotland, a website devoted to helping people understand cerebral visual impairments, and together working towards beginning to master this complex spectrum of conditions.

From the website: “To forward our understanding of how CVI affects people, we regularly engage with parents and those affected by CVI.  The findings we share on this website, and we are clear that the source is parents’ first-hand accounts, although our professionals provide guidance throughout.”

Professor Dutton contributes a regular blog to the site.

PREVIEW OF “ECHOLOCATION AND FLASHSONAR”

Preview of Echolocation And FlashSonar

By Daniel Kish and Jo Hook

We hope you will enjoy this book, and find it helpful. Neither the authors nor Visioneers / World Access for the Blind receive any royalties from the sale of this book. If you find this book helpful, please consider helping us reach more blind students in more places with your tax deductible donation to World Access for the Blind on our Make A Donation page. Thank you kindly.

Click Here to Order / Note: A braille edition is available as a free download at this link.

“Copyright © 2016
American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
All rights reserved.

This publication is protected by Copyright and permission should be obtained from the publisher prior to any reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise.

For information regarding permissions, write to:

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Project Staff

Daniel Kish, Author
Jo Hook, Author
Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Project Leader
Laura Zierer, Research Assistant
Adam Clark, Manufacturing Specialist
Matthew Poppe, Graphic Designer

About the Authors: Daniel Kish

Daniel Kish is an internationally-acclaimed expert in the field of echolocation/FlashSonar. He obtained a master’s degree in Life-Span Developmental Psychology from California State University, San Bernardino, and a master’s degree in Special Education from Cal State Los Angeles. He is the first totally blind person to hold both national certificates in orientation and mobility: Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) and National Orientation and Mobility Certificant (NOMC).

After losing both eyes to retinoblastoma by the time he was 13-months old, Daniel began using active echolocation/FlashSonar to navigate the world as a toddler, and has spent the majority of his adult life teaching others to navigate using echolocation/FlashSonar.

In 2000, Daniel founded World Access for the Blind, a nonprofit dedicated to the development of an instructional philosophy and evidence-based instructional techniques for teaching persons with visual impairments to navigate freely, effectively, and joyfully.

He serves as the president of World Access for the Blind and provides what he calls perceptual navigation instruction internationally. He is a prolific writer and international presenter in the area of accessible navigation with the long cane and echolocation/FlashSonar, having consulted on a number of studies in human perception and technical applications. He continues to update instructional philosophy and methods to incorporate new research and instructional discoveries.”

About the Authors: Jo Hook

“Jo Hook first qualified as a Solicitor, and then became a law teacher and legal editor before retraining as a rehabilitation worker for the visually impaired.

Jo then gained a teaching diploma and an MA in education and worked as a Senior Lecturer in Rehabilitation Studies at Birmingham City University. Jo currently works part-time as a rehabilitation worker.

She is a proponent of the philosophy and instructional methods of World Access for the Blind and has worked with Daniel Kish during his presentations and instructional sessions in the United Kingdom. She contributes the strong research base for this book. Jo is based in the UK.

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Acknowledgements

APH would like to thank the following professionals for participating in the field test of this book. We used their detailed feedback to make revisions to this helpful resource.

Janet Carlson, Spokane Public Schools, Spokane, WA
Kim Cooper, Mesa Public Schools, Tempe, AZ
Stephanie Doeren-Rasmussen, Utah School for the Deaf and Blind, Salt Lake City, UT
Julie Hapeman, Milwaukee, WI
Lauren Herring, Forsyth County Schools, Cumming, GA
Leslie Kelly-Watrobka, Jeffco Public Schools, Lakewood, CO
LeAnna MacDonald, Westside Community Schools, Omaha, NE
Nancy Montcalm, Pinellas County Schools, Largo, FL

Daniel Simmons, Wake County Public School System, Cary, NC
Sheila Spencer, Oregon Commission for the Blind, Portland, OR
Megan Warner, Overbrook School for the Blind, Philadelphia, PA
Gina Woods, Oklahoma School for the Blind, Muskogee, OK

Proper Trademark Notice and Attribution

Masonite® is a registered trademark of Masonite Corporation.

Plexiglas® is a registered trademark of Arkema France.

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Quotation:

“For me, adjectives such as happy, contented, blissful, enjoyable, do not seem quite appropriate to any general description of this process I have called the good life. . . . But adjectives which seem more generally fitting are adjectives such as enriching, exciting, rewarding, challenging, meaningful. This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-hearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one’s potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life.”

(Rogers, 1995, p. 196)

Introduction

Daniel Kish writes:

On my first day of first grade, the buzzer rang for morning recess. This catalyzed an immediate eruption of shrill voices bursting with nervous excitement, punctuated by a tempest of crashing and clinking chairs against desks. Every chair against every desk registered on my consciousness—each metal leg striking metal leg and each plastic chair back banging wooden desktop or clunking against the hollow, metal under-shelving. The noise was somewhat new to me, because the year before in Kindergarten, we had spent most of our class time on the floor in a circle. When we did work, the desks and chairs only occupied about a third of the room, and that had been the third nearest the door. Now, the clash and crash of movement filled the entire large, square room from wall to wall.

“Although someone had familiarized me with parts of the room previously—the location of the door, the sink, my desk, and the circle time area—I already knew the shape and size of the whole room by its echoes which came to me from its walls and corners, even though I had not explored these. However, I did not learn how I knew this until years later. Nonetheless, the image of the room’s shape and size presented itself vividly to me at all times. The floor was carpeted, so at least the chairs didn’t scrape and squeak against the floor which used to make me cringe. This universe of clatter quickly dissolved into a wave of seemingly countless thudding shoes carrying a ringing chorus of voices, all stampeding toward the corner of the room to my left, and slightly behind me.

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Introduction by Daniel Kish continued:

I occupied the last desk in the last row of desks nearest the corner of the room opposite the door. They thought this desk would be easy for me to find, which it wasn’t. The desk nearest the door would have been easier, though. In retrospect, it was rare that my desk was positioned nearest the door, possibly because they may have thought I would have clogged up traffic or gotten run over. In fact, I’d have been the first one long gone out the door before traffic would have been an issue, but I didn’t think of that until later.

With a splunk of the push bar and a subtle whoosh of air, the door was flung open. The room drained of sound as the myriad of gleeful voices streamed away into open space, merging with a swelling tide of noise and movement beyond. I ambled toward the column of noise framed by the doorway, occasionally clicking my tongue quietly in order to gage my proximity to the wall on my left, and also to avoid chairs left askew along the way.  They had tried to teach me to trail the wall with my hand to the doorway, but I found that awkward and slow. Directing myself toward the shrill symphony of kids at play which breathed against me on a cool breeze, I clicked again to center myself as I passed through the open doorway. The muffled silence of the carpeted classroom, now empty, closed in behind me as I entered the oceanic expanse of the new playground beyond.

After a few steps, I dimly felt where the smooth cement turned to somewhat rougher pavement. Under my feet, I could feel a crack that I discerned ran parallel to the long building whispering behind me. I knew by experience that this crack was an important feature to remember, and I wished my feet were not so rudely encased in shoes.

I paused to consider the strange, chaotic scene stretching out in all directions before me. Clicking and swiveling my head from side to side, I scanned the expanse, straining to penetrate the heavy curtain of commotion. The world suddenly seemed bigger and noisier than anything I had ever encountered—teeming with flocks of darting voices, swarms of bouncing balls, and battalions of scuffling shoes, all darting and swirling in a mesmerizing tapestry of motion. Like the chairs against the desks, each individual sound, each footfall, ball bounce, and shouting voice, called to me, threatening to split my attention into a chaos of fragments blown in the wind.

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Introduction by Daniel Kish continued:

This playground, and this extent of activity and commotion, was completely new to me. Prior to starting first grade, I had only been oriented to the primary-students’ classroom building, taught to trail the wall of smooth, bevelled bricks with my hand from my first grade classroom five doors down to the resource room where I would learn braille. I didn’t need to trail the wall with my hand in order to follow it, for I could hear its presence just as easily, but I could not distinguish the closed doors by clicking, so I counted them by hand until I became familiar with the distance.

I had no cane; mobility training wasn’t provided to children my age in 1972. Although this practice has changed in the U.S., it remains this way in most countries. A short introduction had been given to my class that morning about a blind child among them, but we did not have aides looking after special education children in those days, so as I entered the playground I stood near the building all alone. I wasn’t scared though. I generally preferred to be alone, and in all my time in school since I was two years old, I had thought little about not being guided or helped along. I had been clicking my tongue to get myself around for as long as I could remember. I did not even have to think about my clicking, for it came as naturally to me as breathing.

To this day, I have always enjoyed figuring things out and finding my way around new spaces: What is around me? How do I get there? What do I do when I find it? How do I get back? New places have always been like intriguing puzzles to me, and this day was no different. I’d have given anything to be rid of these stupid shoes, though. Having kept barefoot most of the time, I had grown accustomed to reading every nuance of ground with my feet, making the ground with every step a kind of map comprised of tell-tale textures, shapes, and temperatures. As I stood poised to venture into this strange, noisy place, my main discomfort was that I could barely read the ground beneath me.

At first, I found the noise on this new playground oppressive, threatening to swallow me up. But curiosity won out over mild apprehension. I stepped gingerly forward, clicking quickly and loudly to cut through the cacophony while turning my head left and right to hear where my clicks came back to me as echoes. Clicking and listening allowed me to find the clear spaces, and I walked methodically over the pavement, threading my way between clusters of bodies, undulating blips on my “radar.” Keeping my distance from the boinging thud of bouncing balls and the repetitive clack of twirling ropes, I moved cautiously at first, but gained speed as I found my “fit” into these busy surroundings. From time to time I clicked back over my shoulder. As long as I could hear the hard surface of the building call back to me through the undulating crowd, I knew I could find my classroom again.

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Introduction by Daniel Kish continued:

The storm of noise stretched in all directions, and the building was fading fast through the bedlam fog as I stepped forward. I hesitated, wondering if I should return to the building while I still knew I should return to the building while I still knew I could, but the skittering of a ball behind me followed by shoes pelting lightly after it spurred me onward. I knew there must be quiet fields of grass somewhere; softer open spaces like there had been on my kindergarten playground. Noticing a slight downward slope of the pavement, I realized that if I could get back to the slope, I would be able to follow it most of the way up toward the building. Once I got close enough to it, I would be able to hear it.

Eventually, the pressing din gave way to a softer hue, taking on a slightly muffled quality, while my clicking inquiries found no reply. With relief I sped up, eager to find the open quietude of the large field of grass that I knew lay shortly before me. Despite the awful, rigid school shoes I was required to wear, I felt my feet hit grass. Stimulated by the promise of great adventure, I broke into a run, quickly clicking to ensure that nothing stood in my way. Finally emerging from the heavy fog of noise, I felt as freed as a bird taking joyful flight.

Then, suddenly, something whispered back to me from the open expanse, and I jolted to a stop. “Hi,” I ventured in a bell-like treble. There was no reply. As I scanned, clicking more softly, the something quietly told me about itself—it was taller than me, and too thin to be a person. As I reached out to touch it, I knew already that it was a pole. I was glad I found it with my tongue and not my head. As I followed the pole upward with upstretched hands, my probing fingers encountered a small metal cap adorning the top of the pole a few inches above my head. I clicked around me, and barely heard something else whispering back. Leaving the pole, I moved toward this next thing as it called to me with a similar voice, telling me that it was also a pole. I detected yet another one and another — four poles in a straight line before I reached the end of them. Later I would learn that there were actually nine poles in all comprising a slalom course, and that one day I would be able to slalom rows of trees on a bicycle while clicking madly.

A strident buzzer abruptly sliced the air. More annoyed than startled, I froze and raised my hands to my ears. When its dreadful assault finally ceased, I lowered my hands to hear buildings from far away calling back to me from several directions surrounding the immense grass field. I detested the buzzer, but the distant voices echoed back from every direction like my private serenade of wistful music, as if singing to me about just how big this field was, and of the houses and neighborhoods that lay beyond. I stood motionless a moment, amazed. I had never been in anything this vast. I scanned around me, clicking, but I couldn’t hear my classroom building over the great distance and bedlam of kids. As I fell in step with the tide of movement all flowing in a single direction, I clapped my hands with a sharp report, and something large called back through the tangle of piping voices and scurrying shoes. As I moved toward it, the grass gave way to pavement, and as I stepped quickly up the slope, clicking and clapping, I heard the unmistakably broad, clear voice of a wall drawing nearer.

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Introduction by Daniel Kish continued:

“I know!” I shot back, my very treble voice suddenly edged a little too loudly over the subdued shuffling of chairs and shoes on carpet. I had already sensed the distance from the wall in front of me, and I knew I had arrived at my desk at the end of my row. I reached to my left and found a desk with a braillewriter on it.

“How come you can’t see where you’re going?” I heard Michael ask, half under his breath almost as if he were addressing the question to someone else beside him.

“Plastic, eyes,” I over emphasized each word as I slid into my seat, annoyed at having to repeat myself “and, I know where I’m going.”

But as I settled into my chair, my annoyance quickly faded as my mind already raced to the next recess, excitedly anticipating the treasures of the new playground.

_____________________________________

“People were saying, ‘we would like more information on this,’” says Prof. Diane Fazzi, Chair of the training program at California State University, Los Angeles, who attended Daniel’s very first presentation on echolocation, delivered by invitation to the California Association of Orientation and Mobility Specialists in 1994. “They thought it was very important. It has a lot of promise. It’s going to benefit a lot of blind people” (Nicolosi, 1994).

Since those first days so long ago, the use of advanced forms of echolocation by people who are blind and its implications for science, teaching, and unprecedented freedom of movement has gained increasing public interest through hundreds of written publications, radio broadcasts, online forums, and programs on nearly every major TV network in the world. The last ten years in particular has seen the impact of focused echolocation training on the navigation of people who are blind become a mounting topic of interest across many disciplines including natural and neural science (Stromberg, 2013 in the Smithsonian; Bleicher, 2012 in Scientific American Mind); human interest (Finkel, 2013 in National Geographic Magazine); health (Rosenblum, 2009 in Psychology Today); business (Shea, 2011 in the Wall Street Journal); education, and entertainment (Ker, 2009 in Mountain Bike Action Magazine) to name a few. Most recently the demonstrable impact of echolocation instruction on freedom of movement for people who are blind has been showcased in high-profile public forums including PopTech (Borthwick, 2011), TED (May 2015), and Idea Festival (2015). Public interest has also been raised by the Marvel’s Daredevil series in America whose protagonist, a lawyer who is blind, is a masked vigilante who uses echolocation.

As noted by Professor Mel Goodale, Canada Research Chair in Visual Neuroscience and Director of the Centre for Brain and Mind, “It is clear echolocation enables blind people to do things otherwise thought to be impossible without vision and can provide blind and visually-impaired people with a high degree of independence” (Goodale quoted by University of Western Ontario, 2011).

By way of example, as reported in Der Spiegel Magazine, a top European publication, “One of the trainers is Juan Ruiz, a well-known flash-sonar expert [trained by Daniel since 1994]. In several YouTube videos he can be seen riding a mountain bike through rough terrain. Indeed, before making his way to Berlin, Ruiz made a stop in Italy, where he set a new Guinness World Record. A television studio in Milan was outfitted with an obstacle course featuring ten columns spread out over a 20-meter (66-foot) path. The cameras rolling, Ruiz mounted his bicycle and pedalled away, constantly clicking. The spellbound audience followed Ruiz’s progress as he navigated his way forward guided by what seemed like a sleepwalker’s instincts. One column after the next seemed to enter his field of vision. He curved to the left and to the right and, after 48.34 seconds, rolled over the finish line without a single mistake” (Dworschak, 2011).

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Introduction by Daniel Kish continued:

As I approached the building, I caught the exchange of other kids talking about me:

—”How does he know where he’s going if he can’t see?”

—”He’s got some kind of radar.”

The crowd noise organized itself and grew less assaultive as voices began to drop into hushed tones. I heard kids in lines facing the wall, their subdued voices organized in rows. I didn’t know why they were lining up or what I was supposed to do and I couldn’t tell where my classroom was. I stood a moment to ponder my next move when someone called my name off to my right. I recognized the bell-like voice of my teacher, Mrs. Mullen. I really liked her voice, and I really liked her. I started to walk along the crack parallel to the wall toward her voice, but kids were standing on it. I moved in toward the wall, clicking and walking between it and the fronts of the lines. A child came running up to me, then. “We’re over here,” came the voice of a boy I recognized. I wasn’t good at recognizing voices, but this one was unusually rough for a first grader, and he had some kind of an accent. He sat at the desk next to mine, but I couldn’t remember his name. As I walked beside him, I could tell he was a little taller, which was good, because it made him easier to keep track of. “How come you can’t see?” He whispered. The voices of all the other children had dropped also to whispering murmurs.

“’Cuz my eyes are made of plastic,” I whispered back. I sensed his body turn, his head cocked to stare transfixed into my face, his breath catching. His shoes shuffled awkwardly as he almost side-stepped along half in front of me.

“We’re right here,” I heard Mrs. Mullen say, “Thank you Michael for being so helpful.” I clicked and listened to find where the kids, now almost breathlessly quiet, were lined up. “Michael,” Mrs. Mullen’s voice rang quietly, “Why don’t you help Daniel find the end of the line?” But I had already turned away from the building and begun clicking along the line of kids, when Michael’s hand touched my shoulder. “It’s over here,” he announced quietly, tugging me in the direction I was already going.

“Michael,” Mrs, Mullen called, “let him take your arm.” But, by then, we were already there. Michael positioned himself in front of me, evidently not wanting to be the last in line.

As the line began to move forward, I clicked rhythmically to track Michael’s movements forward. I’d been taught to place my hands on the shoulders of the person in front of me, but something about Michael made me uneasy, and I felt uncomfortable touching him. As we filed into the room, I clicked and scanned to avoid kids as they shuffled into their chairs. As I clicked along the wall to my right toward the corner nearest my desk, I noted thankfully that our coming in was a lot quieter than leaving had been. “Your desk is right here,” I heard Michael insist in a tone half disgruntled, half surprised. “You’re going too far!”

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Introduction by Daniel Kish continued:

It is in light of this prolific wave of public interest that the present authors, two enthusiastic mobility specialists, have observed a corresponding eagerness among blindness-related practitioners and consumers who are blind to expand their body of knowledge and refine their understanding about how to learn and teach echolocation to support blind navigation to a level of sophistication that is now known to be possible.

As Ken Lord (2010), mobility instructor of nearly 50 years and President Emeritus of the Mobility Association of South Africa, neatly summarizes after arranging and attending two, 2-day workshops led by Daniel and members of his Team, “Blind humans using flash sonar, which is much more than just echolocation, can move about as though they have a crude but effective form of vision. They can be well oriented, negotiate obstacles gracefully, quickly, safely, and be extremely independent — thus enjoying a wide variety of meaningful life activities. A blind traveler can receive multi-dimensional information from distances of many meters, depending on circumstances. Echoes make information available about the nature and arrangement of objects and environmental features such as overhanging branches, walls, doorways and recesses, poles, up curbs and steps, flower boxes, pedestrians, fire hydrants, parked or moving vehicles, trees and other foliage, and much more. Echoes can give detailed information about location (where objects are), dimension (how big they are and their general shape), and density (how solid it is). . . . The blind participants, with a crowd of 40-odd mobility instructors and parents observing, were taught to create and use a series of unobtrusive tongue clicks, . . . Lessons progressed to obstacle detection which included openings, poles, trees, and vehicles. … but to me, the cherry on top was the ability to detect the shape and outline of a vehicle and with a little practice pronounce that it was a bakkie, passenger car, or a 4X4. . . . Hopefully O&M instructors and blind people themselves will take forward what was learnt at both workshops” (Lord, 2010).

It seemed a good opportunity to support the O&M profession to take the lead in addressing this wave of interest on all fronts, especially the rapidly growing number of requests for this training streaming in from blind consumers throughout the world. So, this book was brought into being to provide the necessary materials to enable people to understand not only what echolocation is, but how it can be easily and consistently taught and learned to a sophisticated level of daily use.

Daniel Kish is not only widely regarded as one of the most famous echolocators worldwide, but he is reputed to be the most experienced teacher of echolocation skills, having taught for over 20 years in more than 40 countries (Cloutier, 2015; Utne, 2009; Levitt, 2015).

Prior to her position as Senior lecturer specializing in Orientation and Mobility, Jo Hook held a career as an attorney (solicitor). As such, she strives to establish her practice and instructional approach on evidence-based or proven research rather than personal opinion or unsupported adherence to long tradition. This blend of many years of practical knowledge and academic interest hopefully makes this book informative, interesting to read, and easy to follow.

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Introduction by Daniel Kish continued:

The authors seek to bring to light the wealth of academic support that exists for echolocation from many fields and disciplines which clearly demonstrates that it is not an untested idea or a skill that just a few people can perform. Rather, it is a useful, proved skill for orientation and environmental interaction that is readily applicable to a broad diversity of individuals who are blind and visually impaired. “It’s very exciting,” says Gordon Dutton, formerly of the Royal Children’s Hospital in Glasgow, “I have seen echolocation being used—it’s quite stunning. It has been demonstrated to me that it absolutely works. Of course there will be skepticism and doubt, but the benefits are without question. It will make a massive difference to the lives of blind and visually impaired people” (Macaskill, 2008). In fact recent research has shown that it may go much further than that, with “converging evidence for the idea that echolocation may play a role in peoples’ successful adaptation to sight loss” (Thaler, 2013a, p. 9).

According to Kenneth Jernigan (who was blind himself and a noted leader in the blindness field), “Independence is the ability to go where you want when you want without inconvenience to yourself or others” (Jernigan, 1993). In a similar vein Huebner and Sidwell (2004) define independence as “the ability to travel efficiently and comfortably, when, where and by the manner that one chooses to use in order to fulfill one’s personal life need” (Huebner & Sidwell, 2004, p. 33). One choice that leads to independent travel for those who are visually impaired or blind is to use a long cane. However, the long cane has its limitations such as “the inability to detect obstacles that are not rooted to the ground, for example, wall-mounted bookcases and overhead signs. Long canes allow for immediate ground-based detection, but do not provide sufficient information to accurately perceive the environment” (Davies 2008, p. 2).

“As Eric Weihenmayer, the first person who is blind to summit Mt. Everest and all seven of the world’s highest peaks, writes “I wish I’d known FlashSonar [Daniel’s coined term for active echolocation] a few months ago when I was walking through the airport and slammed my forehead into an overhanging metal beam. I hit the deck with blood pouring down my face and into my eyes. I still have a big scar and worst of all, I lost my latte” (Weihenmayer, 2013). The long cane can only allow for physical perception of what it can reach. Echolocation can allow for perception of the environment beyond the cane’s reach. Austin software developer Nolan Darilek, blind since birth, said Daniel Kish’s training is almost martial arts-like in its discipline, unlike any he’s ever experienced. Until he began working with Kish, he’d consigned himself to striking objects with his cane, drawing attention as he gets around. “I don’t want to bludgeon my way through life,’ said Darilek, 30. ‘I want to move through it gracefully’” (Ramirez, 2011).

“However, echolocation also has limitations: it is relatively difficult to interpret echoes of objects that are roughly below knee height (Kohler, 1964). The simplest way of explaining how the cane and echolocation can complement each other is to say that echolocation is best used for objects at knee height and above, as well as objects out of physical reach, whereas the cane is best used for detecting objects within physical reach below knee height – what we call ground level objects.

As a boy’s father observes, “Daniel’s mobility training works by combining information gained by use of the long cane, a compass to orientate yourself, and echolocation. Daniel took us to a fenced recreation ground and asked Samuel to locate different apparatus by clicking. He then had Sam use his compass, cane and clicks to find his way around the enclosure” (Lockwood, 2008, p. 39-40).

Next page

Introduction by Daniel Kish continued:

The authors are both very aware that “the essential problems of the blind… are associated with mobility and with mastery of the environment” (Juurmaa, 1969, p. 80). Dr. Gordon Dutton (2008) comments, “developmentally in young blind children it is the lack of awareness and active engagement with the surrounding world which leads to major problems. It is therefore likely that young children in particular could benefit enormously from being trained in echolocation” (Dutton, 2008, p. 2). As Wiener, Welsch, and Blasch (2010) state decisively, “The traveller with visual impairment who is able to make good use of reflected sound learns to travel in a more sophisticated, more graceful manner than those who cannot” (p. 128). However, Ashmead and Wall (1999), point out, “the nature of this auditory ability remains poorly understood” (p. 314), and Feinstein (2001), observes, “Sadly, echolocation is not talked about, nor is it taught. It’s only learned intuitively or by example” (Feinstein, 2001, p. 4). Although information about echolocation has, in recent years, become more readily available in the mainstream media and various scholarly disciplines as noted above, information about it in the body of literature associated with the orientation and mobility profession remains scant, and no comprehensive, systematic instructional methodology is known to have been published. Consequently, it is the authors’ observation that echolocation is not commonly taught by instructors or learned by people who are blind to a sophisticated level.

There are likely to be many reasons for this. One of these, as suggested by Davies (2008), is that it may be seen as socially unacceptable. As three-time Australian Paralympian and accomplished athlete, Gerrard Gosens, puts it, “I live in a sighted world and for me it’s about developing my skills to work into a sighted world. . . . The primary form of a mobility device should be either a white cane or a seeing eye dog” (Marshall, 2013).

Although the production of the clicking signal is audible, the authors maintain that the loudness of the click is not usually noticeable by others in a typical day to day environment. As one mom put it in a letter to a listserv: “on the topic of using a tongue click, I can again tell you from firsthand experience that it is hardly noticeable at all. . . . I also think the tongue click in no way resembles a blindism or mannerism (as cited in Kish, 2011, October, p. 7).

Both authors are passionate about people having information and opportunities available to them to make informed choices and achieve their full potential. “I strive to give my child access to all of the resources I can to help him become who he wants to be. … We want him to be as independent and free as he can be. To give him that, we want him to have access to all the options so that he knows what is possible and can make his own choices. . . . Echolocation training is most definitely helping to accomplish that goal” (as cited in Kish, 2011, October, p. 7).

Next page

Introduction by Daniel Kish continued:

The World Health Organization estimates that there are around 39 million people who are blind in the world and 246 million people with low vision (World Health Organization [WHO], 2010, p. 4). This figure is then said to be possibly 20% over- or underestimated because of difficulties obtaining accurate data. Echolocation could potentially benefit about 285 million people worldwide. It is intended that this book, which explains echolocation, provides the groundwork for most effective teaching and learning, and provides specific training exercises to enhance echolocation skills, can fill this informational gap to help more people to bring these skills to the high standards that are now achievable and expected. “Most blind people have learned to do this to some degree,” comments Erik Weihenmayer (2013) “but it’s passive and not developed with a conscious process. . . . So it was especially gratifying when, by the end of the day, I was finding metal poles in a pavilion and even locating thin metal sign posts. It all took immense concentration, but the good news is that it’s fully possible, and only gets better with practice.”

Many of the concepts presented here may seem elementary to some, while at the same time esoteric or very advanced to others. For example, many instructors already embrace the opportunity to provide cane training and training in perceptual development to toddlers and even infants, while many others still stand reluctant or skeptical. Some wholly embrace a hands-off, non-directive style of instruction, while others remain more directive. Some make family involvement a regular component of the instructional process, while others may only see the family once a year when meetings require them to do so. Some instructors regard blindness as a challenging condition that can be adapted to, while others regard it as a severe and limiting disability. The authors recognize that readers come with a very broad range of knowledge, and we have attempted to appeal to and offer useful perspectives and information for that broad range. This book can be used as a self-teaching guide for those looking for opportunities to improve upon their own echolocation skills, for parents to gain greater understanding of their children’s learning, and for teachers or Orientation and Mobility (O&M) specialists to train others to use auditory information more effectively.

The authors did not want potential readers to be put off by overcomplicated theories or an overly formal writing style. This book should be accessible to all, and those who want to delve more into the research can easily do so by following up some of the many references.

Next page

Introduction by Daniel Kish continued:

Finally, the authors also offer a friendly invitation to members of the field to stretch our thinking beyond long held traditional frameworks. For all their wisdom and insight, the pioneers of the Orientation and Mobility profession in the 1950’s were noted experts in mid-20th century medicine. They were not experts in blindness, and they did not have access to modern knowledge of human perception, neurology, and biomechanics. With one exception, they were not blind themselves, nor were they daily users of the techniques they were developing. They filled a significant gap for blind people at a difficult time and are to be credited for their ground-breaking contributions at that time. That said, we propose that pioneers establish beginnings; they do not dictate endings. These pioneers of the 1950’s, at a time when people who are blind were routinely kept out of many sectors of mainstream society, would have had little idea of the challenges and possibilities that lay before people who are blind in the 21st century.

We find it useful to view our proposed model up-front as a dynamic, organic, open system of information exchange and development, as a system born of a loosely structured confluence of information and perspectives from many disciplines. What we did three or five years ago we may not do today, and many of our practices of today will likely fall away three to five years from now.

In striving for a more evidence-based approach, this book seeks to be clear about the clinical reasoning behind what we propose. Clinical reasoning is a term used by other professions to describe their ability to explain with logical understanding why an instructor or therapist would take a particular course of action with a particular client. This practice is relatively new to the Orientation and Mobility profession, and we applaud its formation. When asked “why”, orientation and mobility instructors are often still at a loss. Many students and parents have come to us and said, “They just can’t give me a reason,” or “she just said we’ve always done it this way,” or “that’s just best practice.”

We make every attempt to offer substantive, comprehensive, and well-supported reasoning behind everything we propose. When situations arise where the answers aren’t clear, we seek to find them with complete earnest. We hope we have done this to the reader’s satisfaction.

Daniel Kish | Jo Hook

Click here to order ‘Echolocation And FlashSonar at APH Online.

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHORS | ORDER ONLINE

Photo: Daniel Kish standing between a rock formation in Iceland.
Image: photo of book cover: Echolocation and FlashSonar by Daniel Kish, Jo Hook. Click to order online at American Printing House for the blind.
Jo Hook. Image: Video still of Jo Hook from a BBC Program with Daniel Kish in the background. Link to article on her work with Daniel Kish at Birmingham City University.

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ADDITIONAL FEATURES | INFORMATION ABOUT INTERNATIONAL ORDERS

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Please note: When placing orders with the American Printing House for the Blind from outside the U.S. and Canada, you cannot use their online shopping site. It may be necessary to call in your order during U.S. Eastern Standard Time, UTC-5.

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Good luck, and enjoy your book!

Title:

Echolocation and FlashSonar

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APH American Printing House for the Blind

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8-75975-00

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SOME OF DANIEL’S VIRTUAL PRESENTATIONS

FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

Daniel Kish Presentation For American Printing House

Collectively, these address critical needs and practice for early childhood freedom of movement from a developmental perspective; FlashSonar (of course); and an evolved understanding of cane training which revisits cane characteristics and alternative techniques that are easier to learn and use for a wider variety of people in a broader range of environments and situations.

We discuss activating brain plasticity and the practicalities of FlashSonar for self-determined freedom. We explore an adaptation model of blindness toward self-determined freedom of movement and achievement based on the current science of developmental neural plasticity to discover how the brain can learn to see and interact with the environment when the eyes are not working. We also cover techniques and strategies for helping learners move through the four steps of stimulus discrimination which pertains to learners of all ages with special consideration given to early developmental stages, including infants and toddlers.

Instructor: Daniel Kish, M.A., M.A., COMS; President and Lead Instructor; World Access for the Blind; daniel-kish@worldaccessfortheblind.org

Lesson Plan Goal: Integrating Perceptual and self-determined Achievement Strategies into Orientation and Mobility program: Participants will understand the method and functions of perceptual directed mobility, including touching, self-determined engagement and management of guides and supports, and FlashSonar.

Learning Objectives:

1. Participants will identify at least two disruptive mechanisms of self-determined freedom of movement.

2. Participants will identify how the brain naturally acquires self-determined freedom of movement using environmental information.

3. Participants will identify at least three perception-based principles to help activate brain mechanisms to foster self-determined freedom and achievement, even when this process has been disrupted.

4. Participants will learn at least three strategies for fostering development of four major brain processes – perceiving, acting, thinking, and socializing.

Pre-requisite knowledge:

Catalyst Australia, Apr 12, 2016:  The blind man leading the blind to see

https://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/echolocation/11016442

Two follow-up workshops were requested by APH for more information. They follow in the next two tabs.

FREEDOM FIRST APPROACH FOR SELF-DETERMINATION OF BABIES AND YOUNG CHILDREN (Part 1)

Daniel Kish Presentation For American Printing House

Using an adaptation model of blindness based on brain plasticity, this webinar explores the fundamental principles of self-determined freedom of movement and achievement. Practical strategies that foster natural development of brain processes are shared. Specific focus is given to perception-based cane training, a self-determined model of engagement and managing guides and supports, and audition/FlashSonar.

Instructor: Daniel Kish;  President and Lead Instructor,  World Access for the Blind; daniel-kish@worldaccessfortheblind.org

Pre-requisite knowledge:

Catalyst Australia, Apr 12, 2016:  The blind man leading the blind to see

https://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/echolocation/11016442

Toddler Echolocation: For these you can scroll further down this page or click on the links to watch them on YouTube and share with others.

https://youtu.be/-2ULe-OQuSg

Toddler Perception Cane:

https://youtu.be/InMtUn6ff6A

Basic Activities:

https://youtu.be/kRa5egfRms0

Take Charge:

https://youtu.be/kRa5egfRms0

Lesson Plan Goal:  Participants will understand the developmental impact of perceptually directed mobility and how to foster it, including: taction and early cane training; self-determined engagement and management of guides and supports; and FlashSonar development.

Learning Objectives:

Participants will learn at least three perception-based principles that support activation of brain mechanisms, which foster self-determined freedom and achievement in young children and across the lifespan.

Participants will learn  at least three concrete strategies for fostering development of the four major brain processes – perceiving, acting, thinking, and socializing.

FREEDOM FIRST APPROACH FOR SELF-DETERMINATION OF BABIES AND YOUNG CHILDREN (Part 2)

Daniel Kish Presentation For American Printing House

Learning Objectives:

Participants will learn at least three perception-based principles that support activation of brain mechanisms, which foster self-determined freedom and achievement in young children and across the lifespan.

Participants will learn at least three concrete strategies for fostering development of the four major brain processes – perceiving, acting, thinking, and socializing.

2020 INDIANA VISION CONFERENCE

Free 100% Virtual Conference Presented by Indiana AER (Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired) , PASS (Promoting Achievement For Students with Sensory Loss)  and ISBVI (Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired)

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: DANIEL KISH

TOPIC: Love Nourishes Freedom; Fear Imposes Limitations

AER VIRTUAL WORKSHOP:

The Practicalities of Echolocation and FlashSonar with Daniel Kish

A Perception Basis for Cane Length Considerations

AER Report – Spring, 2009
by Daniel Kish

Reports a new way, based in perceptual theory and long practice, to determine cane length that is found to be especially helpful for children.

Canes Mean Freedom

Insight Magazine, United Kingdom – July & September, 2010
by Daniel Kish

Parts I and II of this article discuss the critical importance of early cane training for blind infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The theoretical framework is discussed, and some principals of implementation are outlined.

What It Means to Walk with a White Cane

Braille Monitor, National Federation of the Blind – February, 2007
by Chris Danielsen

https://cviscotland.org

This is perhaps the most definitive and erudite resource on CVI. I know the people who put it up, and they’re amazing.

 

 

ADDITIONAL LEARNING MATERIALS

TEACHING SONARVISION: Component Videos

We’ve compiled and curated excerpts from the extensive video collection of media profiles of our work over nearly two decades in the field teaching blind people of all ages how to see with sound.

Blindness Professionals, including O&M specialists, Special-Ed teachers, case workers, coaches and others, including parents, relatives and friends will find these a beneficial supplement to the information in the “Echolocation and FlashSonar”textbook.

These videos are for educational purposes only and are not intended for commercial distribution.

Visual Cortex

In the video below, discover how our FlashSonar echolocation, combined with our full-length Perception Cane use activates the brain’s Visual Cortex to process acoustic feedback instead of visual feedback to produce SonarVision. Our partnered research suggests that perhaps we should rename it the “Perceptual Cortex”.

Auditory Adaptation

The video below explains how the brain of a blind person can be trained over time to re-wire itself to develop an acoustic vocabulary from the sonic signatures reflected in the echoes from our FlashSonar combined with the supplementary acoustic feedback produced when using a Perception Cane.

Toddler Echolocation

Just as sighted toddlers progressively develop a vocabulary to identify visual signatures around them, we teach blind toddlers to progressively develop an acoustic vocabulary to identify sonic signatures around them. And in the video below, you’ll learn how we adapt those sonic signatures to the age of the student.

Toddler Perception Cane

Did you know that in some countries, children born blind aren’t allowed to use a navigation cane until around the ages of 7 or 8? Can you imagine how much precious opportunity is lost in that time? We believe here are no valid reasons for this to happen, and as you’ll learn in the video below, we start ASAP.

Perspective

Another important component of our SonarVision instruction is adapting it so that it is all being taught from the perspective of the student’s viewpoint. As this video shows, we adjust our teaching position from that of an adult down to the student’s level so that we’re “seeing” what they’re seeing using SonarVision.

Feature & Scene Analysis

As our students learn and grow in age, sonic vocabulary and skill set, we introduce ways for them to create their own spatial maps by learning to recognize and catalogue sonic signatures and landmarks. As you’ll learn in the video below, this is how Daniel Kish is able to draw remarkably accurate maps of his surroundings.

Basic Activities

This video presents different basic activities that can be introduced as the student progresses in their perceptual skills. Some are more basic than others, depending on the age of the student and how focused their FlashSonar is becoming in recognizing and differentiating between objects and their proximity.

Distance Perception

As the quality of a student’s FlashSonar echolocation technique advances, we teach them to expand their perceptual range. As you’ll learn in this video, shopping center parking lots can be an ideal training ground for near and far distance perception because of the vehicles themselves and the surrounding buildings.

Take Charge

The following video will open your eyes to the high-performance achievements that are possible when blind students are nurtured within the realm of our “No Limits!” philosophy and introduced to our SonarVision Perceptual Navigation & Freedom curricula at the earliest possible age and liberated from outdated traditional sighted dependence.

AUSTRALIA: ABC SCIENCE PROGRAM “CATALYST”

Since the year 2000, Visioneers.Org | World Access For The Blind have provided instruction to over 2,500 blind persons and their families, and over 5,000 blindness professionals in 40 countries.

In the video below, ABC TV Australia learned more about the science behind SonarVision and it’s components of FlashSonar echolocation and full-length Perception Cane training while Lead Visioneer Daniel Kish was on assignment “down under”.

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT ABOUT NAVIGATION CANES

Daniel’s Cane Recommendations and Why?

Differences in length and materials affect comfortable usability

I detail the research around evolving and controversial recommendations and perspectives around cane length, weight, tips, techniques, and so on in chapter three of my Echolocation and FlashSonar textbook, as well as some recent presentations that are now available online. I will provide links to these and other additional resources later on.

“The results are unparalleled in my experience, and I have a lot of cane experience..”

Svarovsky is a company in the Czech Republic. Their canes  are very strong, very light, and overall very comfortable and effective. I have very rarely found an active student at any age who didn’t love them. Other plastic canes commonly issued and which I used to use and recommend myself  are not terrible, but they are heavier and not as strong, and generally not as conductive or well balanced. I do have specific recommendations for other cane types which I will delineate later.

Here’s the new English Svarovsky website:

https://www.svarovsky.cz/en/

 For the Svarovsky cane, you need to contact Kvido sandroni at:

sandroni@email.cz

or

sandroni@svarovsky.cz

You should mention that I referred you.

He will give instructions on how to order and arrange for payment, which should come to somewhere between $40-$60 per cane, depending on the choice of cane, tip, and handle type, + $30-$60 for flat rate shipping to the U.S. of up to two Kg, or about four pounds. This equals about a dozen canes, so if you’re inclined to purchase several canes and accessories at once, the shipping costs are quite reasonable, and shipping is pretty fast and reliable in our experience. Yeah, they’re a little more expensive than some canes purchased more locally, but you get what you pay for, and we have found that they greatly out last on average every other cane type.

Kvido is blind himself, and presumably helped design this cane, which is among the best we’ve encountered for active use. I do have other recommendations for other use cases which I will detail later.

I find Svarovsky to be extremely customer friendly and flexible and, despite the international shipping issues, we often get their shipments in less time than more local sources.

I also suggest ordering several extra solid plastic tips. They need to be replaced about every year or two, and I always have them throw in a couple ceramic and a couple rotary tips for those occasional students who prefer these. My cane recommendation always takes into account student preference, although sometimes I do insist that a student give my recommendation a go before deciding. I, myself, took three days to decide that the standard mid-sternum length cane is just not conducive to optimizing security and efficacy, and I have tried them all. My cane technique was textbook perfect before I found it necessary to make what I have found to be massive improvements.

They also have a rotary tip that is quite decent as far as rotary tips go. My beef against rotary tips is that they invariably stop rotaring before long, and then their worse than just a standard tip. Svarovsky’s is better than most in this regard, but still develops this problem. I was recommending their rotary tips for a while, but stopped and have gone back to the solid plastic tip with the occasional ceramic tip for some students. Also, some students will tend to stem off the whizzing sound of the rotary tip. For some it can be kind of useful as it can help encourage them  to take notice of and sweep their cane, but not always conducive to some environments. If cane flailing is not acceptable or manageable, best to just avoid the rotary tips for some students in some environments.

Their maximum length is technically 150 cm, but they will do custom lengths longer than that for a small fee. The longest cane I’ve ordered so far was 175 cm or about 69 inches. They will also do as short as you want for really little ones. The cuteness factor can’t be overstated.

I generally recommend Svarovsky canes for most active blind students from toddlers up who are willing to travel unguided. There’s something about the balance and feel of these canes that we find most toddlers and preschoolers take to more readily than other canes we’ve tried, even canes that would seem lighter and easier to grasp. It’s counter-intuitive, I get it, but that’s just what we’ve found.

Why Longer Is Better

As a general rule, for active students who are willing and able to travel unguided in outdoor or unfamiliar environments, we measure students canes with shoes on to about their hair line if under 6-7 years old (nearly their height), about their nose if between 7-14 (nose to toes), and to about their chin once fully grown. It pretty much depends on how comfortable a student is to extend their cane arm, but we don’t generally teach full arm extension, anyway other than for spot purposes. Great recipe for elbow and shoulder strain. It may also depend on how active a student is, and how often they travel unguided.

My own cane comes to an inch below my chin, and that’s about as short as I have ever recommended for a student. I seem to be prone to wrist strain, possibly due to a combination of weak wrists and lots of walking. I rarely have my arm more than half extended, and I don’t center my hand, either. I understand that hand-centering can be good for some select students, but for most it applies long term strain to shoulder, arm, and wrist.

Svarovsky also has a version of this cane  in which the handle segment can extend the length of the cane by about 15 cm. These are designated OrC5C/A or OrC6C/A, depending on the maximum length ordered. These are slightly heavier, but because the slight extra weight is in the handle rather than the shaft or tip, it’s still very well balanced and arguably hardly noticeable to the user.

They have four models of plastic telescoping canes with the following range extensions:

 

cm 105-120 (maybe suitable for children 5-8 years old)

cm 120-135 (roughly 8-11 years old)

cm 130-145 (perhaps 10-13)

cm 145-160 (12 or 13 and up)

 

The advantage for growing children is obvious, especially for tweens or young teens who are about to hit a growth spurt, so I’ve started recommending these for school aged children and tweens. Because of the durability of these canes, one such cane can usually last several years of growth. And kids routinely love the fact that their cane has this cool extendable feature, often winning over even the most resistant cane users. Just a personal note here, I, myself, was an intractably resistant cane user all the way through my teens, so I understand the resistance deeply.

I also sometimes recommend these to parents whose blind children want to be more active and self-mobile, but who have instructors who refuse to let their students use a full length cane in school. We have found this commonly in England because of fears around health and safety – just saying. Rather than switch out cane types, the child can just retract to the imposed shorter length when in school, then expand to our recommended full length for perceptual-navigation when out of school, thereby keeping the peace with traditionally trained professionals, while ensuring proper security, equality, and efficacy (see) for self-determined freedom of movement in daily life out of school. It’s just the game we all must play at times when confronted by implacable authority.

They do have an aluminum telescoping cane. While these look very nice, they are logistically more complicated and less reliable. I do not recommend them.

There are a lot of reasons for all the length recommendations, all of which I will not go into. The traditional length cane comes up to about the sternum, and is referred to as a “long cane”. This may be adequate for blind people who spend most of their time in familiar settings or who are guided regularly. However, for more active blind people, a length to chin – hairline (depending on age as moted above) provides a necessarily greater safety margin. I refer to these as “full length”. Children  are growing, so they’re going to out grow it fairly quickly, anyway.

 

The problem I see most often with blind children is how much they’ve outgrown their cane before anyone notices and bothers to replace it with something appropriately safe and effective.

 

This is obviously less of a problem for kids who travel guided more regularly, but again, these are often the kids who are susceptible to outgrowing their cane before it is noticed. So, I generally start active kids a little long, and teach them to just shore up on their cane if they need to for appropriate length. The advantage to the full length cane is that, you can make a full length cane as short as you need, but you can’t make a shorter cane any longer. So, our students learn to adjust the length of the cane by adjusting their grasp according to circumstance.  This fully addresses any imagined health and safety concerns around the full length cane which, in actuality keeps users safer and, therefore, healthier.

For infants or pre-emerging walkers, I recommend the Ambutech Slimline Graphic cane. For infants, I recommend cutting the cord out of the cane and fusing the joints together with tape or bits of plastic, then trimming off any excess around the shaft. The center cord contributes significantly to the cane’s weight. How to do this is another workshops; maybe I should just do my own workshop series. As the infant grows, you just add another segment to the length.

To measure for infants or pre-walkers, I often say 50% beyond their height, but this can vary a bit depending on individual circumstances. I find that introduction of the cane pre-walking speeds up development toward walking, and the kids are more stable when they start walking.

They’re also more environmentally aware, and much more ready to take charge of their own navigation even by age two.

While most blind kids at those young ages feel more comfortable being guided, I’ll be forthright in offering that I have plenty of two and three year old blind kids doing circles around 6-9 year old kids who were trained in the traditional method, or for whom cane training was withheld during the early years.

Some of the best cane research for early walkers comes out of Australia, but I recommend introducing the cane to pre-walkers as well. I have written extensively about this in the textbook and other articles. A lot of this has simply to do with when and what type of cane is introduced, and what the expectations are at these young ages. Our standards and expectations , needless to say, are very high, even and especially for young children for whom early development establishes physical and psychological patterns around self-esteem, self-determination, movement style, learning style, and overall strength of character and wherewithal.

 

I like to say “the earlier the easier, but it’s never too late.” No, it’s never too late.

 

But, it’s definitely more challenging to foster a sense of personal agency and self-determination in an older child once they have already established a disposition toward dependence, passivity, neediness, or insecurity.

 

Video still of one-year-old Ellie getting a grip on a cane while sitting on the floor.

Other Cane Recommendations

From NFB (National Federation of the Blind)

I do like the feel of the NFB, Chris Park balanced folding canes, but I’m not a fan of  the metal glide tip, which is the only one NFB has available for that cane unfortunately. Also, as nice as those canes feel and look, they are more easily broken than the Svarovsky. But, they may be a good option for students who are less active, or who travel more often with guides. There is a presentation on the TSBVI presentation archive website specifically about adapting the NFB canes to receive alternative tip options. Svarovsky tips may also be conducive to these easy adaptations, because their tips are lighter and more robust than most while at the same time sporting a slightly narrower shank that inserts into the shaft. I do prefer the Ambutech ceramic tip to the Svarovsky tip, because it is lighter and comes in both hook and threaded shaft inserts. Click on the image to go to the ordering page at Lighthouse For The Blind’s Adaptations Store:

 

Screenshot of the NFB Chris Park 7-piece folding cane.

 

I also quite like the Chris Park ultra-Mini Telescoping canes that retract to an attractively small package. These are good for back up, travel, or general indoor use. They are also perfect for people who travel guided more regularly, as they are easy to extend and retract. They slip into a bag or pocket and take up no space. I tend to use these while in airports or in transit, or in people’s homes out of respect. They are quickly and easily extended for use, or retracted and stowed seamlessly when not in use. One of our blind instructors calls it his “social cane.”

This is my cane of choice when I am in tight indoor spaces or transit environments. I sometimes use these in stage settings as well, as they really do look very elegant. Even when I am being guided, I insist on having a cane available to me at all times. I often recommend them for blind kids who are often guided or who spend a lot of time in classroom or other indoor settings, such as places with indoor schools and facilities in long winter climates, or people in indoor work settings. They look and feel amazing, but they will snap instantly for most people in active, outdoor use. They also use a much nicer, more rounded plastic tip which glides more fluidly and is more adaptable in my opinion than the standard metal glide tip. Click on the image below to go to the purchase page.

 

Screenshot of NFB Chris Park Ultra Mini Telescoping Cane.

 

A slightly beefier but still compact version of this is their Chris Park standard telescoping cane which is a similar concept, just sturdier. Click on the image below to go to the purchase page:

 

Screenshot of NFB Chris Park Telescoping Cane

 

The beefier version only comes with metal glide tip which, as above, I don’t prefer, so I personally go for the ultra-Mini Telescoping cane myself, especially if I anticipate being guided frequently or for lengthy periods. However, these canes are more robust, and may be worth considering for students who do travel guided more often, but who do have need for a cane occasionally in outdoor settings. They kind of have a portability similar to the ultra-mini cane, but will hold up to some abuse. Good for country settings for students who travel guided more regularly, but who use their canes on an “as needed” basis.

Both these cane types are great for people who like to stow there cane easily while being guided by human or dog, but have it easily available when desired. They’re also great back-ups as they take up almost no room when retracted, and they also look nice and elegant. Many blind folks feel awkward about using their canes indoors, or they are admonished by training or culture not to, so these mini-telescoping canes are a great, low profile alternative.

I generally recommend shorter lengths for these retractable canes, partly because the shorter lengths retract to a smaller package, but mostly because they really can snap very easily. The shorter they are, the less likely they are to encounter a situation that results in breakage. And, since they are ideal for lighter use in more contained or confined settings, the benefits of extended length are arguably not warranted in my opinion.

I will say here that we have had great experience with the folks at the Adaptation Store. I highly recommend them.

In closing, we remind our students that, the design of the tools of one’s trade or hobby are most important for best application. We think this should also be applied to the cane that a blind person uses every day.

 

To a blind person, our cane is more important than any other item. You want the  very best.

 

A Perception Basis for Cane Length Considerations

AER Report – Spring, 2009
by Daniel Kish

Reports a new way, based in perceptual theory and long practice, to determine cane length that is found to be especially helpful for children.

Canes Mean Freedom

Insight Magazine, United Kingdom – July & September, 2010
by Daniel Kish

Parts I and II of this article discuss the critical importance of early cane training for blind infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The theoretical framework is discussed, and some principals of implementation are outlined.

What It Means to Walk with a White Cane

Braille Monitor, National Federation of the Blind – February, 2007
by Chris Danielsen

https://cviscotland.org

This is perhaps the most definitive and erudite resource on CVI. I know the people who put it up, and they’re amazing.

 

 

GADGETS, MAGNETS & ADDITIONAL READING RESOURCES

MICROSOFT SOUNDSCAPE

Only GPS App that allows virtual beacons to be placed on any point of interest or user marker.

Also allows for preview of routes through virtual street preview.

Allows sighted friends or supporters to set and share markers with blind users to facilitate route learning or wayfinding. Contrary to common understanding, the App works perfectly well without earbuds, and in fact I recommend against earbuds for during outdoor travel.

I do not teach the App with earbuds, although they are nice for the virtual mapping utility they call Street Preview, but you’re not actually traveling while using this. Click on the image to go to the Apple App Store page.

Screenshots of Microsoft's Soundscape spatial audio app for navigation by blind and visually-impaired users.

 

MICROSOFT SEEING AI

Great for indoor and outdoor use.

Can provide access to public signage in real time; person recognition; Scene preview (describes elements in a scene); light detector; color and currency identifier; and more.

DEVELOPING MANUAL SPATIAL SKILLS

Using magnets to develop spatial logic

GEOMAG:

https://www.geomagworld.com/en/

Excellent for quick and engaging representative maps and models. Great way to apply manual coordination to develop spatial logic.

Classic set is adequate for 2D map design and some 3D modeling, but more advanced sets allow for greater 3D representations. The need for development of manual spatial skills and concepts cannot be overstated. And, what kid doesn’t love magnets?

Photo of different building sets from GEOMAG using various plastic shapes with embedded magnets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geomags are great, but  these are much cheaper and, in my opinion, some ways more versatile.

Veatree 308 PCS Magnetic Building Sticks 

Building Toy 3D Puzzle. Click on the image to go to the page on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helps to supplement with additional magnets to represent other environmental features, E.G.,

Ajax Scientific Assorted Ceramic Magnets:

Click on image to go to Amazon page.Photo from Amazon of ceramic magnets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For extra fun and engagement, super strong rare earth magnets:

K&J Magnetics: Sample Packages

Click on the image to go to their website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also helps to have a metal board such as this one for the magnets:

M-D Building Products Galvanized 56020 1 2-Feet Steel Sheet

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0010ZXE9I/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

SPATIAL TRACKING MADE EASY

“The Bells Are Ringing For Me and My  . . .”

These low-tech items help blind people, especially kids, keep track of their family and friends when out and about; also used to help ween anxious blind kids off guides.

Beau’s Bells: Luxury Handmade Copper:

Click on the image to go to the Amazon page.

Screenshot of Amazon Page for Beau's extra loud Cat and Dog bells.

 

GA Braden Brass Acorn Falconry Bells:

If you do your own research, you definitely want the Two Tensile Acorn Bells.  You do not want the lahore bells which look similar in photos, but don’t ring as well. Go figure! You can use various ways to attach them. They all come with leather thongs for attaching them to “the things that flyeth and cralleth”, but for “the things that walketh on two legs” I think a combination of chain, key rings or paper clips, and ID clips work best. Key rings come with the ones I referenced above. ID tag clips available from any office or stationery store. Attaching them in a hard sport situation so that they don’t yank off may be a challenge. Maybe key rings and karabiners hooked to pockets, belts, or belt loops? Click on the image to go to the Amazon page.

Screenshot of Amazon page for the Brass Acorn Falconry Bells.

 

HAND CLICKERS:

There’s a hand clicker I recommend for people who have difficulty producing a tongue click. Of course I also teach a workshop on producing an adequate echo signaling tongue click. It isn’t usually difficult to get students to do it if you follow the right protocols. However, you kind of have to know what you’re doing, and most don’t. The typical result is unfortunately an inadequate tongue click which leads to less than favorable results. However, there is a magic hand clicker which, for those students willing to use it, pretty much provides instant good results. It’s here:

Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation CW-200 Wooden Castanets:

Click on the image to go to the Amazon page:

Screenshot of Amazon page for Suzuki Castanets.

 

They are available on Amazon or directly from Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation.  Many music shops sell them, but you have to fish around to find them.

They’re great in the absence of a tongue click.

 I often just have the student tie it to the grip of their cane, or attach it to a pocket or belt loop. Having it on the thumb is best for scanning, but that gets in the way for many students. I have a whole protocol for using hand clickers as well, but that’s another whole workshop, I guess. Unfortunately, these protocols aren’t in the textbook; this is all post textbook stuff. Some of it has come about since questions have been raised about echolocating through a face covering. People who are proficient at echolocation can get their signal sufficiently through a mask, but many people whose proficiency is less developed or more fragile are finding themselves struggling, so these hand clicker protocols work well in such cases. Anyway, it’s not really rocket science. Pretty much, you just give the kid a clicker, and the rest more or less handles itself.

Cricket Ball with Rattles (sometimes called hockeyball)- MaxiAids

I can’t over state how much blind kids usually love these. Click on the image to go to the page.

Screenshot of Cricket Ball with Rattles on the Maxi-Aids website.

Here’s a video of it: England ODI and T20 captain Eoin Morgan feels the pressure as he gets busy with the England visually impaired team. Just as impressive, some of the comments from viewer

 

 

I like the rattles better than the bells. These are available from the RNIB in the U.K., and Maxi Aids in the U.S.

 

Audible sound balls for adaptive sports – Goalfix Sports USA

They seem to have the best and most effective selection. They carry Audible sound balls and bell balls for basketball, goalball, blind soccer, powerball and wheelchair soccer, visually impaired sport and play, as well as goal kits as well as eye shades and head protection. Click on the image to go to their website.

Screenshot of Goalfix USA website.

Sound Table Tennis Balls

This 3-pack comes from American Printing House and also comes with sound adapted tangle balls – fantastic. They make a great noise, they bounce, but they don’t roll away so easily. Great for little ones.

Click on the image to go to the order page.

Screenshot of the order page for a 3 pack of Audible table tennis balls at American printing House.

Technology for Orientation and Mobility Educators

Breanna Baltaxe-Admony: PhD student and disability advocate researching accessibility, technology, and equitable design practices. @leyabreanna

“This post outlines the creative ways orientation and mobility (O&M) teachers use various technologies as instructional tools. I’m located in the US, so much of this is from a US perspective. The 16 interviewed were located in the US, UK, AUS, and IRE.” Click here to go to the page.

 

Independent Movement and Travel in Blind Children:

A Promotion Model (Critical Concerns in Blindness) 1st Edition

by Joseph Cutter  (Editor), 2007

ISBN-13: 978-1593116033

ISBN-10: 1593116039

I recommend any articles by Joe Cutter. He was one of my inspirations coming into the field, and I’ve had the pleasure of presenting with him. Click on the image to go to the page at Amazon.

Screenshot of the Amazon ordering page for the book "Independent Movement and Travel in Blind Children.

 

Jacques Lusseyran: A most remarkable unsung hero!

Parisian Jacques Lusseyran was just 15 when the Nazis conquered France.

Within a year, though, he had formed an underground resistance group of 600 youths. To make his brave feat even more remarkable, it should be noted that since the age of 8, Lusseyran had been blind.

After the war he became known as a brilliant writer and philosopher, but he was unable to find employment in France because the laws passed against people with disabilities during the Vichy government days were still on the books! So, Lusseyran went to the USA and taught literature as a University professor. This is some of the most beautiful, inspiring, and engaging articulation of what it was like for a young boy to go blind, and what it was like to adapt to blindness, especially at a time and in a culture which was even more restrictive. His writings are passionate, yet thoughtful, heart-rending yet up-lifting. This man is one of the most impressive and thoughtfully eloquent individuals I have ever come across. His works are some of the most eloquently beautiful, insightful, soul-stirring contributions to literature that I have ever encountered. I cannot recommend these sublime works enough.

“When Jacques Lusseyran was an eight-year-old Parisian schoolboy, he was blinded in an accident. He finished his schooling determined to participate in the world around him. In 1941, when he was seventeen, that world was Nazi-occupied France. Lusseyran formed a resistance group with fifty-two boys and used his heightened senses to recruit the best. Eventually, Lusseyran was arrested and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp in a transport of two thousand resistance fighters. He was one of only thirty from the transport to survive. His gripping story is one of the most powerful and insightful descriptions of living and thriving with blindness, or indeed any challenge, ever published.”

Click on the link to purchase the book at Amazon.

 

Screenshot of Amazon order page for "And then there was light".

 

Jacques Lusseyran: “Against the Pollution of the I”

“In this remarkable collection of essays, Lusseyran writes of how blindness enabled him to discover aspects of the world that he would not otherwise have known. In “Poetry in Buchenwald,” he describes the unexpected nourishment

he and his fellow prisoners found in poetry. In “What One Sees Without Eyes” he describes a divine inner light available to all. Just as Lusseyran transcended his most difficult experiences, his writings give triumphant voice to the human ability to see beyond sight and act with unexpected heroism.”

Click on the image to purchase the book at Amazon.

A screenshot of the order page at Amazon for the book "Against the Pollution of the I".

 

 Blindness and Brain Plasticity in Navigation and Object Perception

Rieser, John J.; Ashmead, Daniel H.; Ebner, Ford; Corn, Anne L. (2012). Abingdon, Oxon: Psychology Press.

Click on the image to order at Amazon.

Screenshot of the Amazon order page for the book "Blindness and Brain Plasticity in Navigation and Object Perception".

 

The Brain That Changes Itself:

Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science

(James H. Silberman Books): Doidge, Norman, MD, Publisher: Viking; 1 edition (March 15, 2007)

Publisher’s Summary

An astonishing new scientific discovery called neuroplasticity is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the adult human brain is fixed and unchanging. It is, instead, able to change its own structure and function, even into old age. In this revolutionary look at the brain, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D., provides an introduction to both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they’ve transformed.

Click on the image to buy the audiobook free with a trial subscription at Audible.

 

Screenshot of the oder page at Audible.com for "The brain That Changes Itself".

 

Sensory Integration and the Child: 25th Anniversary Edition 1st Edition

by A. Jean Ayres | Publisher: Western Psychological Services; 1 edition (April 1, 2005)

This book was compiled from Jean Ayres’ notes and edited by a personal friend of mine who is a major player in the OT field. Click soon the image to purchase at Amazon.

Screenshot of purchase page for "Sensory Integration and the Child" at Amazon.

 

A Sense of the World:

How a blind man became history’s greatest traveler

Jason Roberts – 2006

This remarkable account documents how James Holman, a blind man from Britain, became history’s greatest traveler. Staying one step ahead of those desiring to institutionalize or infantilize him for his blindness, Holman traveled more miles than any other explorer prior to motorized transportation. Artist, poet, and sportsman, this extraordinary individual ventured through jungles, across deserts, and over seas, ever embracing the world, and always reaching for the “more” that he could become. Although his work was all but forgotten, having been dismissed by skeptics who cast doubt that a blind man couldn’t achieve what Holman had claimed, and by critics who insisted that a blind man couldn’t possibly “observe” what Holman claimed to have observed. Robert’s meticulously researched eloquence succeeds in bringing Holman’s words and sentiments back to the forefront of public appreciation and knowledge.

Publisher’s Summary

Journalist Jason Roberts has won critical praise for A Sense of the World. His biography of “the blind traveler” has been named a Best Book of the Year by numerous publications, including the Washington Post, and has been nominated for the Guardian First Book Award. Although blinded as a young Naval lieutenant, James Holman became one of the world’s most prolific and observant travelers.
Click on the image to purchase the audiobook for free in a trial subscription at Audible.

 

Screenshot of the order page for the audiobook "A Sense of the World" at Audible.com

 

Exploring Blindness: Questions Yet Unanswered

Braille Monitor – March, 2010
Michael Bullis

Michael Bullis, certified orientation and mobility instructor and himself totally blind from an early age, raises questions and explores research options, discussion of which many may find uncomfortable. In a brilliant articulation of perspective, he addresses our work, among other critical matters warranting attention. I had the privilege of reviewing a draft of this article for editorial comments before it was submitted. You can read the article at Braille Monitor.

 

Equal Expectations: A Belief Paradigm or a Politically Correct Feel-Good Phrase?

Future Reflections – Winter/Spring 2008
California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped, Inc. (CTEVH) – March, 2007
by Eric Vasiliauskas, M.D.

This article, a poignant perspective of a father about his two blind boys, eloquently challenges teachers of blind kids to step up to the plate in equalizing expectations between blind and sighted students. It is full of helpful resources and approaches for raising blind children to meet and surmount life’s chalenges, and it is extremely well thought out and referenced. It was first delivered as a Keynote to CTEVH.

It includes an inspiring meeting with Daniel Kish when his first son was still a baby. “While I had heard educators in the blindness field and parents of blind children warn of the dangers of being overprotective, it wasn’t until our first CTEVH conference nine years ago, [1998] that I heard the term “equal expectations” for the first time. Dan Kish’s family was presenting a workshop and his father honed in on the concept of equal expectations. He emphasized that we must demand higher expectations of our blind youth, and that our kids need the skills to make it in the real world where they will not be given a break just because they have a visual impairment.”

Click to read the article at “Future Reflections“.

 

 

PLOS BLOGS: Getting around by sound: Human Echolocation

Neuroanthropology: Diverse Perspectives on Science and Medicine – June, 2011
By Prof. Greg Downey | Macquarie University, Sydney

You already met Professor Downey in the Catalyst video above. This is one of the most well considered, researched, and erudite articles about human echolocation, featuring our work and research around it. Takes a refreshing and penetrating anthropological view. And , yes, he even addresses “The man without fear – Daredevil”.

“Human echolocation is a capacity of any human being, but the extraordinary skill shown by exemplary practitioners like Daniel Kish and Ben Underwood requires much more than just a human nervous system and the right training: the skill requires a community that ‘gets it’ and supports the capacity.”

“In summary, echolocation isn’t just the conjunction of a human brain, mouth, ears and objects to reflect back sound; it’s also the product of a social group and society that has its own attitudes and approaches to dealing with blindness. At the same time that people like Kish are helping to spread techniques like echolocation to an unprecedented number of individuals, we can see that other social forces might decrease the possibility of achieving this perceptual skill.”

Click here to go to the article.

USA: The Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, or VABVI,

Visioneers.Org provided three days of SonarVision Workshops for blind children, teens and adults and their sighted mobility instructors at VABVI in 2013.

As VABVI Orientation & Mobility Instructor Eric Shaw pointed out in the video report by New England Cable News (NECN),”Anything that gets [young students’] attention that ultimately leads to their safe travel, their confidence, their parents seeing they are able to travel like anyone else is what we’re looking for.” You can click on the thumbnail (below right) or this link to watch the video at the NECN website where you’ll also find a text transcript.

Below on the left, you can simply click on the photo to watch a report by NBC News on YouTube on the workshops that aired on “The Today Show”.

Video frame from an NBC News report on Daniel Kish teaching blind students in Vermont how to navigate using echolocation and a long perceptual cane.
Click to watch "Seeing With Sound" video at NECN.

VABVI ECHOLOCATION WORKSHOP ASSESSMENTS

You can watch the video below produced by the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually impaired to hear about their experiences with our work.

The email from Dan Norris, Supervisor of Adult Services, and an O&M Specialist for VABVI speaks for itself. We had a great time with everyone in Vermont and are grateful they found such inspiration in what we do,

Date: Mon, 6 May 2013
From: “Norris, Daniel E”
Subject: Thank you for Your Training

We’d like to thank you for your training this past weekend. All who were involved truly enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. Please send our regards and thanks to Brian as well for his training in Rutland. Jeff told us it went very well and all the participants enjoyed their time with Brian.

Bill, we definitely heard you when you emphasized that you and Daniel wish to be a resource for us and that we can come to you for answers to questions, problem solving, etc. We will be sure to do that. We look forward to finding ways to use your training as another tool in our client’s tool belts.

Again, thank you! Safe travels in Iceland, Daniel!
Dan Norris

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