YOU DON’T NEED SIGHT TO DISCOVER THE CAPABILITIES YOU HOLD WITHIN
Thomas Tajo’s journey from a developing country, through blindness from Optic Nerve Atrophy before he turned 10, (the same condition that took Brian Bushway’s sight), to obtaining a Master’s degree in Sociology, has been truly remarkable.
But his greatest discovery came after graduation when he questioned, for the first time, the presumed incapacities society has always imposed on blind persons.
THOMAS TAJO: ACTIVATIONAL WORKSHOP VISIONEER
Thomas Tajo serves as an Activational Workshop Visioneer in Europe, Asia and South America, leading activities that encourage everyone to live a more self-directed life full of possibilities related to their capabilities.
Thomas spreads Visioneers’ NO LIMITS! philosophy by helping to explain how the brain rewires, when activated by training activity after sight loss, by integrating the remaining senses.
And occasionally he demonstrates this as he did on Dutch TV on the program that’s roughly translated as “Betting That It’s Possible” in the video below.
Born in the foothills of the Himalayas to an aboriginal/tribal family in north-east India, Thomas Tajo became blind at the age of 8 or 9 due to Optic Nerve Atrophy.
He left home early at the age of 13 or 14 to go to a boarding school for the blind that was 500 miles away and since then he has lived on his own.
To complete his high school, Thomas moved to New Delhi. Living alone in a little rented room in Delhi, Thomas wrote songs and played music in bands while pursuing his high-school education and Bachelors degree through distance learning.
His song “The Wind! was part of the 2008 Delhi Underground Album “The Best of What’s Next.”
For a change, Thomas attended a regular course of study and achieved his Masters in Sociology from the Delhi School of Economics at the University of Delhi in 2012.
There he began to research and question everything, including his own blindness, and slowly realised that he had never questioned his own blindness and taken for granted that blindness means to be inherently incapable.
Since then Thomas has been researching the history of the senses and presenting his findings to the scientific fora, such as how some senses have been culturally and scientifically ignored and devalued across time and culture, whereas other senses have been stimulated and educated to ably serve the purpose of enabling people to lead productive and fulfilling lives.
Thus, he came to the realization that his blindness and the inherent incapacity popularly associated with blindness is a lack of cultural and scientific awareness of the capacities of our non-visual senses.
Tapping into the popularly ignored capacities of his own senses, Thomas realised that he could train and educate his non-visual senses to allow him to effectively and efficiently perceive and interact with the world through those non-visual senses. This is where Thomas demonstrates his theory of a non-disabling philosophy of blindness through the practical living example of a life of blindness with capacity as a FlashSonar™ echolocation instructor and researcher on the senses.
Knowing that if change has to come then it has to come from all directions, Thomas has chosen to engage with all fields of knowledge and all kinds of people and professions.
Video of Thomas teaching a 5-year old child in a park in Brussels, Belgium.
Most recently, Thomas conducted a FlashSonar echolocation workshop at the annual Contemporary Experimental Music Festival in Moscow, Russia.
Thomas has presented FlashSonar and Perceptual Navigation workshops and training to groups of blind people and sighted mobility instructors of the National Association of the Blind in Nicosia, Cyprus.
He has also participated in the echolocation research conducted at the Universities of Antwerpen and Leuven in Belgium, as well as the Universities of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, and Durham in England.
Thomas has presented papers in the University of Uppsala Disability Mundis workshop in Sweden in 2016, on the history of the emergence of sight as the dominant sense, and how the western visual cultural sensorium hindered the development of the non-visual sensorial capacities of blind people.
Thomas has also given talks to the National Laboratory of Acoustics at the University of Paris, France in 2015.
In 2017 as a Workshop Visioneer, Thomas has traveled to a number of countries around the world to provide Perceptual Navigation Instruction.
First stop was working with blind and sighted attendees at a Sound Festival in Moscow, Russia in the Spring.
Late summer took Thomas to Norway where he met up with Lead Visioneer Daniel Kish to provide Perceptual Navigation workshops over a long weekend.
Autumn found him traveling to Bangkok, Thailand to join Daniel and Senior Visioneer Brian Bushway for Phase Three of “Assignment Thailand” where blind Visioneer trainees received Instructor Certificates at varying ranks after their latest training.
Currently Thomas is living in Belgium and handling assignments for Visioneers from there.
In April, 2017, Thomas Visioneered a workshop for a group of sighted university students in Ellwangen, Germany where he not only explained, theoretically, how FlashSonar echolocation works, but also blindfolded them and had them explore the busy city of Stuttgaard using FlashSonar.
Thomas has also given activational talks there on the changing definition of blindness which Visioneers is also is re-engineering through its philosophy and attitude of “No Limits Perceptual Freedom”.
In the media sector, Thomas appeared on ‘Wedden Dat Ik Het Kan’ (‘Bet I Can Do It’), a prime-time TV show in Netherlands, in 2016. He had to recognise five different objects within the time-limit of 5 minutes.
Thomas also participated as a performing artist in the 2016 Unnoticed Art Festival in the Netherlands.
There he played himself . . . in the role of a blind man, and explored a city where he had never been before, freely interacting with the people on the streets and in the cafes.
The aim was to get close to the people and see if they had ever closely interacted with a blind person before.
Through conversation, Thomas would gauge their views on blindness and give them the chance to reassess and change their views on blindness and blind people through a few minutes of deep and close personal interaction with someone who proclaims himself to be openly and comfortably blind.
Thomas has also presented activational talks to a club of creative people, ‘Imagination Club’ in Brussels, and has provided workshops to a group of contemporary dancers who were developing a ‘Dance in the Dark, in Lille, France in 2016, to become more aware of their bodies and senses.
Thomas has also helped out in the development of Blind Cinema, a contemporary artistic performance by Britt Hatzius, which is currently touring.
More recently, Thomas is helping a Brazilian architect research the accessibility, for blind people, of the Brussels Metros public transport system.
FLASHSONAR WORKSHOP: THOMAS TAJO VISIONEERS A WORKSHOP IN LEUVEN, BELGIUM
VTM NEWS: THE BLIND CAN SEE VIA THEIR EARS
In Leuven, fifteen blind young people today learned how to perceive their surroundings by making sounds. They can see their environment through their ears. The technique is called Echolocation, already used by bats and dolphins. By making a clicking sound with the tongue, the blind know how far they are from an object and they can not run into it.
Via Echolocation, or FlashSonar, people with a visual impairment can form a mental picture of their environment. This can be done by making ‘clicking sounds’ with the tongue or with a small device. The reflected sound contains a lot of useful information about, for example, the size, height and distance of people and things.
“The potential is enormous,” says Thomas Tayo, blind FlashSonar and mobility instructor of ‘World Access to the Blind | Visioneers’. “I can now observe objects up to hundreds of meters away, which means that I now travel independently without the need for any assistance, and can move freely even in crowded places or at airports, and the blind and visually impaired pick up this skill quickly.”
VTM NIEUWS: ZO KUNNEN BLINDEN ZIEN VIA HUN OREN
In Leuven leren vandaag vijftien blinde jongeren hoe ze hun omgeving kunnen waarnemen door geluiden te maken. Ze kunnen hun omgeving als het ware zien door te horen. Echolocalisatie noemt die techniek, vleermuizen en dolfijnen gebruiken hem al. Door een klakkend geluid te maken met de tong, weten blinden hoe ver ze van een voorwerp zijn en kunnen ze er niet tegenaan lopen.
Via Echolocalisatie, of FlashSonar, kunnen mensen met een visuele beperking zich een mentaal beeld vormen van hun omgeving. Dit kan door met de tong of met een klein toestelletje ‘klikgeluiden’ te maken. Het teruggekaatste geluid bevat heel wat bruikbare informatie over bijvoorbeeld de grootte, hoogte en afstand van mensen en dingen.
“Het potentieel is enorm”, zegt Thomas Tayo, blinde echolocalisatie- en mobiliteitsinstructeur van ‘World Access to the Blind | Visioneers’. “Ik kan nu objecten tot op honderden meters afstand waarnemen. Dat maakt dat ik nu zelfstandig reis zonder nood aan enige assistentie, en me zelfs op drukke plaatsen of in luchthavens vrij kan bewegen. Blinden en slechtzienden pikken deze vaardigheid bovendien snel op.
OUR TEAM: THEY STARTED AS CLIENTS AND GREW INTO INSTRUCTORS
One of the proudest legacies of the decades-long efforts by Daniel Kish to educate and liberate blind persons from the traditional cycles of marginalized dependency, has been the team of Perceptual Navigation Visioneers he’s assembled from his students who have grown up with FlashSonar™ Echolocation and its NO LIMITS philosophy.
WE TEACH BLIND PERSONS TO SEE WITH SOUND
When it’s a beautiful day, our students see it in a new way.
Our scientifically-proven FlashSonar™ echolocation lights-up the brain’s Visual Cortex – the part normally used for vision – with audible spatial feedback, like flashes of light in the dark lighting-up the surrounding environment.
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