Well, Daniel Kish, founder of the World Access For The Blind (WAFTB), is a genius who invented human sonar and applies its principles to do his daily works.
This exceptional being set his foot on earth in 1966 in the beautiful city of Montebello, California. He owns expertise in Human Echolocation and is the president of WAFTB. This man is the first blind human to be regarded as a legally Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS). This real-life wizard also owns a National Blindness Professional Certification (NOMC).
Birth and Tragedy
Kish was born with Bilateral Retinoblastoma, a type of retinal cancer that develops due to mutation of genes found in the chromosomes, which affects how our cells grow and develop.
As a result of this disease, his right eye was removed when he was seven months old, and his left eye went through the same surgery when he was thirteen months old. The first thing that he did right after the last surgery was that he somehow managed to climb out of his bassinet and began roaming around the intensive care nursery, protecting him from getting caught. I guess he was looking for the person who did this to him!
This instance clearly portrays that blindness was not a problem for him, but getting caught was a great deal. The impressions we have in our minds about blindness or any other inability are far more threatening to the disabled than the disability itself.
His Parents: A Blessing
In our society, disability is thought to epitomize ignorance and unawareness as one gets exposed to the ravages of the dark unknown. Daniel’s parents were very pragmatic and understood that ignorance and fear are seeds sown in our minds and that the human mind is adaptable. They never saw his disability as an overriding factor.
They wanted him to grow up as normally as any other kid and enjoy the same freedom, responsibilities, and opportunities. Daniel’s blindness was considered secondary to his overall development as an individual. He had a normal childhood, and in his earliest memories, he already echoed locating and clicking his tongue. This extraordinary kid climbed trees, fences, walls, stairs, slides, and anything climbable.
He even ran into objects, for instance, a pole when he was six. Daniel grew up to be an independent individual and moved out when he was 18. His parents were a blessing in his otherwise difficult life. They could easily distinguish between love and fear. Fear can immobilize us in the face of challenge, and his parents knew that blindness could act as that challenge in Daniel’s life. Thus, he was not at all raised with fear but with complete freedom. They were brave enough to put their freedom before anything else because this is what love does.
The world around is a much larger nursery, and so he needed some special abilities to move around!
Just like other visually impaired people, Daniel too uses a cane, but he named it FREEDOM STAFF. He uses this along with his ability to echolocate by clicking his tongue, clapping hands, etc., to move around and ride his bike!
Flash Sonar is a way of seeing with sounds. In this process, the environment is studied by sending out flashes of sound which is a bit like illuminating the surrounding with dim beams of light. When this sound hits the surfaces of objects around, it bounces from those surfaces and retorts to the listener’s impressions or imprints.
It returns with patterns, pieces of information, and much more and acts just like a Bat’s Sonar. Post this; the brain gets activated to form images in the Visual Cortex or the Imaging System from the information received earlier. It is a way of seeing through an image that is carved out from the elements of sound.
He called this entire mechanism FLASH SONAR. This is how he learned to see through his blindness and came out of the dark unknowns of his challenges. All this made him earn the title “The Remarkable Batman.”
WAFTB- World Access For The Blind
This is an international non-profit, non-governmental and educational organization founded on 28 September 2000 by Daniel Kish based in the US, California. It intends to strengthen the physical, mental, and personal growth of people with any kind of blindness. It does this by creating an environment that supports their freedom and tutors blind people about the technology of Echolocation.
It enhances their movement skills in order to minimize the otherwise inferior feelings they may get concerning sighted people. This special training is known as FLASH SONAR which employs sound and vibrations for navigation.
It strives to fulfill various dreams of these people:
- improves the quality of life
- aggravates interaction with sighted people
- boosts confidence, and they tend to become independent
- assures equal access to the resources and opportunities around
- encourages self-recognition
- leads to general acceptance in the society
- increases public awareness about the varied strengths, capabilities, and dynamic roles of blinds
WAFTB conducts workshops, presentations, and training to enlighten students about the concerned topic. The volunteers and teachers connected with the organization give out free of cost services to the interested trainees. Their workshops, etc., are often sponsored by religious and relief organizations, schools, universities, media companies, private companies, etc., as they are working for a noble cause.
The organization has so far delivered activation training to more than 10,000 blinds and sighted people from all backgrounds and walks of life in nearly 40 countries!
When the blinds learn to see, sighted people seem inspired to want to learn to see their way better, more clearly, with less fear because this exemplifies the immense capacity within us to navigate through any form of challenge, through any darkness, to discoveries unimagined when are activated.
Echolocating is an interactive process involving communication with the environment using active signals such as clicking or clapping. It’s more like having a conversation with our surroundings. Every click or clap made by the trainee is essentially asking the question, “what are you? Where are you”.
A fence, for instance, sounds sparse, whereas the sound of a wall will be much more solid. So as one looks for more information, he/she starts to experiment with the frequency and quality of the clicks or claps. It then becomes a kind of language of inquiry to muster information about the environment. This is how the great technology of FLASH SONAR works!
Daniel Kish is an inspiration to the world, never to feel helpless no matter how rough the situation is. A brain is more than enough to render our capabilities boundless!