Sunday, February 14, 2016
Interesting Programme on BBC
Recently on BBC Radio 4, a programme was run in which a boy of 10 years, born completely blind was taught the art of ‘seeing like a bat’ by the very Batman from USA, Daniel Kish who uses the sound from clicking his tongue against the roof of the mouth while holding the mouth pursed, and receiving back the echo from his surroundings and training himself to detect substance, texture and distance of items in his surroundings. Using this method he can safely navigate his way through roads and crossing roads avoiding traffic. Ethan using the same method can go to school without any mishap. The idea of doing this started with Ethan’s great talent in music. He had an extraordinary talent of listening to everyday sounds like that of a washing machine, birdsong, and vacuum cleaner and converting it to piano music sounds which would take complicated but beautiful forms. His mother succeeded in getting him entered into St Mary’s School, Edinburgh, one of the most prestigious schools in the UK. He was St Mary’s first blind pupil and his difficultly in getting around prompted his parents to contact Batman, who they had met on holiday in the US. Batman, Daniel uses the method that bats use to see. He would cycle down the street ‘clicking’. He could differentiate between objects, surfaces, and motion of and distance of objects, the process being called echolocation.A team of neuro scientists studied the phenomenon and to their surprise they found that Daniel was accessing the visual cortex. Professor Gordon Dutton says by ‘watching’ his surroundings by the echo that returns form his clicks he was recreating a visual picture, which stimulated the visual cortex as it happens in a sighted person. This is called Echology.
Ethan after his training by Batman, managed to attend school and as a gifted musician now with his Batman vision, was able to play in an orchestra at a concert at his school. Ethan and his family along with Daniel climbed a hill the two blind individuals using just their white sticks and echoes from clicking with the mouth.
Seeing like a bat with Daniel Kish
Ethan playing the piano
Link to the programme
Zita Perera Subasinghe