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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Echolocation Makes Mountain Biking, Skiing Possible For The Blind

Here & Now Guest:

If you’re blind, you may have thought sports like skate boarding and mountain biking were off limits. But Daniel Kish, founder of World Access for the Blind has other ideas.

He’s created a method of echolocation called “Flash Sonar,” that allows those without sight to navigate by making clicking sounds and hearing them echo back.

The method has enabled blind people to skate board, ski and mountain bike.

It has also drawn controversy for being risky. In an email listserve, a National Federation for the Blind commenter termed it “disgraceful” for drawing unnecessary attention to blind people through “abnormal” behavior.

Brian Bushway, a former student who now trains others in flash sonar, defended Flash Sonar to Here & Now’s Robin Young, saying it provides unparalleled independence for the blind. “If you can use a subtle tongue click, there really isn’t anywhere in the world that a blind person cannot get to.”

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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