November 9th, 2011
08:50 AM ET

Blind man uses his ears to see

By John D. Sutter, CNN

Camden, Maine (CNN) - Follow Daniel Kish out onto a dock and ask him about the view.

"There's this pylon here and there's an object about 20 feet away - here - and another one, about 50 feet away," says Kish, overlooking a bay in coastal Maine during the recent PopTech conference, where he was a featured speaker. "I guess those are boats. I can't tell from this distance, really, but they're solid and we're on the water - so it stands to reason."

Kish is completely blind - he lost sight in both eyes by age 13 months. Yet he uses his ears to see. When he walks around unfamiliar places - he loves hiking - he clicks his tongue and then listens as that sound bounces off nearby objects.

Read the full story on CNN.com

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Filed under: Innovation • Thinkers
soundoff (158 Responses)
  1. Nikita Rolff

    Great post, Love it. Keep it up. I appreciate it.

    December 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  2. The_Mick

    I don't think exceptional hearing is required for this for the following reason: When my mother lost hearing in one ear, I was amazed at how difficult it became for her to tell the direction from which a sound originated. She then had a minor operation that gave her an artificial hammer-and-anvil and a flap of skin from behind her ear was used as a new eardrum. It did not make hearing in that ear very good, but it enough for her to relearn "direction finding" – so I guess it doesn't depend on exceptional hearing, just exceptional attention to what hearing is telling you.

    November 10, 2011 at 10:49 am | Reply
  3. Matt

    I've wondered for some time if this is my imagination or not, so maybe somebody else could try: When I walk home along a busy, but not too noisy street to my left I pass by some trees on my right. And when I close my eyes while passing them I can almost feel passing by. I always thought this could be due to the street sound being reflected from the trees, but after hearing that somebody can actually see with this technique I'm almost certain.

    November 10, 2011 at 1:47 am | Reply
    • Martins nigeria

      This guy just help my friends understand that there is people with ability.I study telekinesis and i can move any object with my mind.But people think am a freak.Visit me and we talk and teach you.Telekinesis,electrokinesis and more.ejelonu.martins@live.com

      November 13, 2011 at 9:46 am | Reply
  4. Timetraveler

    He has a huge advantage over all of you: he can "see" just as well in pitch dark, whereas you will be the blind person when you have to find your way around in the dark.

    November 10, 2011 at 1:42 am | Reply
  5. Sperko

    Creepy. I just watched an older episode of "Criminal Minds" in which a blind child used echolocation. The odds of that?

    November 10, 2011 at 1:42 am | Reply
    • Kelly

      Daniel actually advised the producers on that episode of Criminal Minds.

      November 12, 2011 at 1:22 am | Reply
  6. ohsnaps

    I meant 'Troof B N JEEZUS' sorry for the grammatical errors, y'all.

    November 10, 2011 at 1:34 am | Reply
  7. ohsnaps

    NO NO NO only jesus helps him see and he is going to HELL for saying otherwise. and in HELL he will be tortured with FIRE AND BRIMSTONE FOREVER AND EVER!!! Why can't you people just believe like I do and give all credit to JESUS?!?!? HE"S REAL, Y'ALLS. REAL! Momma and Papa and Preacher said so!!! SO Y'ALLS WRONG COMPARED TO WHAT I BELIEVE, WHICH EQUEALZ THA TROOF i whut i done sayd. TROOF BE IN JEEZUS.

    November 10, 2011 at 1:32 am | Reply
  8. ME

    Mmmm... Nah, I don't think so. Probably just a weirdo who makes noises.

    November 10, 2011 at 1:25 am | Reply
  9. lisa

    god, he would be annoying to go on a walk with!

    November 10, 2011 at 1:16 am | Reply
    • ....

      That is seriously heartless.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:26 am | Reply
    • Eat Less

      Not nearly as annoying as walking next to a fat cow, which I bet you are.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:37 am | Reply
    • Kelly

      I've walked with Daniel many times. The click is very subtle and not annoying at all.

      November 12, 2011 at 1:23 am | Reply
  10. Brian Vandenberg

    Old news. A different guy did this on the Spike tv show Stan Lee's Superhuman

    November 10, 2011 at 1:03 am | Reply
  11. tkessler45

    I wonder how well he'd do if he put on prosthetic ear extensions. :D

    November 10, 2011 at 12:36 am | Reply
  12. Colin

    He must have some incredibly sensitive ears. We all have the ability to use our ears efficiently though. People either don't know or underestimate the power of their ears. For example, when my brother and I play ping pong in my crowded and the ball falls off the table, we can immediately tell where the ball is from the sound of the bonce of the ball on the floor.

    November 10, 2011 at 12:12 am | Reply
    • Marine5484

      This happens with many people who loose a certain sense. Granted his technique is unique. I have a family member who lost his sight after an accident and if there was one thing you never did around him is gossip or share secrets. It didn't matter if he was three rooms away and you were whispering....he herd everything.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:01 am | Reply
  13. Rick Sneed

    Yeah but did you hear Paterno got fired?

    November 10, 2011 at 12:09 am | Reply
  14. jdoe

    Apparently he also consumes small insects to survive.

    November 10, 2011 at 12:07 am | Reply
    • Rajesh

      Can you clean each Can you clean each of those 9 lyraes?, lis it washable??, if not.. how can you clean them if they are already covered in dirt that they have filtered???<??

      February 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Reply
    • Jun

      i'm hipong fat i'm hipong fat fingers is lurking somewhere but i also know that helicopter ben and his merry band are set to intervene if we get a big sell off

      February 22, 2012 at 12:40 am | Reply
  15. papillon

    Amazin what this young man can do. However notice that echolocation does not work with hot objects. Proof of it is this young man's left side of his face. He later explained that he was ironing a shirt and the phone rang....

    November 9, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      You seem like a dick.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:04 am | Reply
      • papillon

        Cmon it is just a joke. I am sure he would laugh at it. He is a cool guy. Hats off to him. Sorry if I offended anybody

        November 10, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • dude

      f you troll

      November 10, 2011 at 12:05 am | Reply
    • Daniel

      Dude, I shouldn't have laughed. But I did!

      November 10, 2011 at 2:06 am | Reply
  16. David Umstattd

    This is such an old story. The show Stan Lee's Super Humans showed this guy like a year ago. Yawn.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Reply
    • Kelly

      Daniel and his colleague Juan (who was on Superhumans) have been in many media pieces. However, it is still important to continue to educate people, both sighted and blind, about the capabilities of blind people.

      November 12, 2011 at 1:27 am | Reply
  17. T.rex

    This guy is a fraud. I went to high school with him. He has 20/20 vision.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Reply
    • Lokari

      Come on, we all know you never graduated from middle school.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Reply
  18. goktugy

    Human hearing range is between 20 Hertz to 20K Hertz, 20000 is very exceptional and rare. Echolocation requires well above 80K. A bat can hear up to 120K Hertz. I really doubt this man can do "Echolocation" in any way similar to a bat. He can probably hear back echos when possible and make an educated guess. This is not echolocation tough. It is like saying
    I can smell like a dog by looking at animal footprints.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Reply
    • Abdul

      goktugy – You are ruining the delight of wonderment/ignorance with your scientific explanation....you are cutting into the profits of News Organizations reliance on bewildering their audience with half baked stories. You are right with giving frequency range capability of human ears and bat ears. It was left out of the story on purpose, or giving rightful explenation of things has not been show to correlate with viewership/profits. You got to leave intelligent analysis out, so your audience can always come for more amazement, when you are really not informing nor educating them...

      Most people who regurgitate these stories by the cooler do not have specific scientific background to come to your conclusion, but hey ....it makes time go by..

      November 9, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Reply
    • Lokari

      Nonsense. He's doing echolocation in exactly the same way bats do. He produces a sound, and he interprets the echoes.
      Due to the limitations of normal human hearing, he's certainly not able to manage the extreme degree of precision as bats do (and in fact he alludes to this in the video). But the mechanism he's employing is the same.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:03 am | Reply
    • cja

      Why do it required high frequency? Only if you need to cath incets in flight. He only needs to "see" larger objects like walls and trees. If he can hear up to only 12Khz (Even I at age 50 can hear 12KHz) then he can locate object in theory to within an inch. A bat would certainly go hungry at 12KHz but it is good enough to avoid things like buildings and trees if only the eras were sensitive enough

      You can train your ears. Musicians learn quickly to hear if the strings on their guitar are dirty or very small tuning errors that most people miss. ANyone can improve if they work at it an hour a day. This guy could do what he does with normal human ears and 10,000 hours of practice

      November 10, 2011 at 12:41 am | Reply
    • AbdulS

      this is exactly why we have science. Logic and intuition closes us off to reality...in this case, this man's brain rewired itself using the coretex that would have been dedicated to visual informaiton, to perceive variations in frequencies in a more sophisticated manner. There has been a lot written about this – why don't you go and do some reading since you seem interested.

      November 10, 2011 at 12:57 am | Reply
    • shopper-db

      You smell like a dog because you forgot to shower! @AbdulS, You are absolutely right.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:28 am | Reply
    • WilcoWayne

      Well, given our wonderful age of electronics, the echo return frequencies can be down converted into our hearing range.
      The transmitting of the higher frequencies can be achieved through a properly constructed transmitter. Hmmm, might give it a try. Where are all those old TV channel clickers?

      November 10, 2011 at 8:21 am | Reply
  19. dan

    The idea that somebody blogged about, adding a track onto movies with echolocation on it so blind people could watch the movie by listening to the clicking, I love it. Amazing story about the girl who would high dive and get back to the diving board using echolocation. Also, for all those people saying that God doesn't exist have never had a spiritual encounter or experience. Because they don't believe, also God doesn't send them any messages or converse with them. Most christians have experienced the "real" presence of God this way. He exists, and he wants to relate with all of us. This is one of the reasons why it's so easy for a christian to believe in Jesus.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Reply
    • Tim

      Why the hell do you have to make this about God?

      November 9, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Reply
      • Sanjoy

        Good qeoutisn.. . Good qeoutisn.. . and I get your point about A/c's . The easiest way to keep allergens out with A/c on is to put a small cloth filter on the inside of the A/c cover (My a/c unit has one). I still use an airpurifier even though the A/C may be letting more stuff in. A/C does another thing: It actually removes a lot of the healthy negative ions So I use the smaller unit ( The MT2 is on sale less than $119 search for alive air mini as it's called that as well on another site).

        February 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
      • Jessica

        Last set of seouldhr press, 8 x 80Did the WOD at 105 and felt great. Was a bit nervous about the full clean, but after the first few I got in my groove.Loved, loved, LOVED this WOD. Strength WODs are my favourite. :

        February 21, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • cja

      Why talk about your hallucinations? Are you asking for help?

      November 10, 2011 at 12:43 am | Reply
  20. Aaron

    This is hardly front page news. LOTS of deaf people do this – I work with blind man who does this all the time. He's often amused at how often such stories make the news as if they're something new and miraculous. Yes, it's very impressive, but it's hardly rare and definitely not worthy of front page news given ALL of the crazy things going on in this world.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      Thanks Aaron for your negativity ... great way to make front page news. I think Mr. Kish is quite newsworthy–he is a fine example of a person who has overcome a challenge on his own.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Reply
      • Dawn

        I agree!

        November 9, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
      • Antoine

        I agree.
        I thought this was amazing to know.and ...what a great voice !

        November 9, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • Lokari

      Considering all the crazy things going on in the world, I find it rather refreshing to read something positive and interesting like this. There is still room in the news for "human interest".

      November 9, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Reply
    • Emilio Dumphuque

      Aaron is exactly right. This isn't all that rare. Local blind musician Kenny Hall's been known to go for walks alone in the Sierra. They have video footage of him coming down a trail snapping his fingers to get the echos. There's even a movie about him called "If you could see what I hear".

      November 9, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Reply
      • Tim

        What in the word do you consider rare, then?

        November 9, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Tim

      Because something has happened before means it can't be news? That's news to me. Lighten up and enjoy an interesting story.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Reply
  21. Cortez

    I have a blind friend that uses the exact same methods, he makes clicking sounds with his mouth and knows more less if there is a wall or objects in his way. The reason he is so good with his ears more than a person who can see is because his brain has focused only on sound and has become an expert at it. We never practice listening for distance or objects in our way so its a difficult task for us. Juanito is also a music prodigy, look him up on youtube, Juanito Castillo.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Reply
  22. ThisIsOld

    Hello again... See you in 4 years.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Reply
  23. Abstract Views

    This is nothing new CNN. As smart as you guys are, you would have thought that you would have already known that there was another case of a boy who did the EXACT same thing under very similar conditions..

    November 9, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Reply
    • ton

      Funny that this is the top news story of the day. Actually it's not so funny.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Reply
  24. Thad Nodine

    Echo location (clicking, clapping, or the taps of steps) is very real, though used differently by different people. @John Sutter and others, have you seen Touch and Go, a novel that was just released that is narrated by a blind man? Publishers Weekly just called it "one of the year's finest fiction debuts." The narrator, Kevin, uses his own steps to hear the depth of corridors, and claps his hands to find a barn.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Reply
    • Thomas

      Echolocation in humans has been proven to be a fraud over and over again. But just like sideshow psychics, they keep convincing people they're legit and draw attention to themselves. Most of the "echolocators" claim to be completely blind, but have just enough forward vision to make their "skills" look passable.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Reply
      • Luke

        oh dont get all tchnical dude...

        November 9, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
      • Michele

        When you are blind and can accurately say this, then I will take your word for it, but I have seen it work, maybe not in the same sense that animals such as bats use it, but it is echo location just the same.

        One of my best friends has done this ever since I have known her, which has been over 20 years. When I met her, we were in 6th grade, and all she had was a cane, which she didn't use a great deal. She didn't even get a guide dog until she was in her 20's, mainly because she had been living alone. One example, was in our Girl Scout camp. Tara would go off the high dive, swim to the surface, and do the clicking, swim her way to the ladder, and walk back to the high dive, absolutely no problem at all. That was probably one of the best ways to show people what she could do. If anyone dares to say that this isn't real, will have to deal with me. I saw it everyday, in action. I was at her house all the time, I even learned braille from her. To this day, I have no problem walking around the house in the dark, because I learned to deal with it at her house. I adapted...and I learned.
        She never lets anything stop her, and I am sure it is because of her ability to use echo location. I am sure that it helps her immensely in raising her family. I just hate that she lives so far away now.
        NEVER underestimate the power of the human brain to adapt...and NEVER underestimate the power of a friend willing to defend what her friend can do

        November 9, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
      • Kelly

        Daniel's eyes were REMOVED at infancy. He has zero vision, so I'm not sure what you are talking about. Plus, there has been scientific research to understand how his brain works while using echolocation. Scientists have found that he is actually using his visual cortex to "see".

        November 12, 2011 at 1:33 am |
    • Luke

      dis guy is all like click click click and is like oh heres an object although im blind and i leared to click wen i waz a baby!!! click on clicker!!!

      November 9, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Reply
  25. wisdom4u2

    This dude is awesome! He just proved that fallacy about humans only using 10% of their brains….well, let’s just say… uh…. a few humans actually DO use more than 10% of their brains. LOL! However, the dude is awesome!

    November 9, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Reply
    • Thomas

      People use different areas of their brains to do or interpret different things. At any given time, about 35% of your brain is active during waking hours. The 10% nonsense is a ridiculous old wives tale that continues to linger.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Reply
      • wisdom4u2

        Uh....yeah...I know. And I believe I used the word 'FALLACY'. You may want to look that word up.

        November 9, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Thomas

      I wasn't bashing. Sorry if it came off sounding like that.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Reply
      • wisdom4u2

        Oh, okay...luv you, Thomas! : )

        November 10, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  26. OBA8YEARS

    WOW!!! ""GOD HELPS HIM OTHER WAYS""

    November 9, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Reply
    • Perry the Platypus

      No, he helped himself in other ways. Don't belittle his accomplishment by crediting 'magic'.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Reply
      • Peter

        Exactly. Agreed!

        November 9, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
      • joe

        Saying that God helped him isn't crediting 'magic'. I am shocked at the amount of close-minded people who deny the existence and constant presence of God.

        November 9, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
      • berealistic

        @joe God is a myth invented to make people feel better about themselves. The only people who are closed-minded are you Bible thum.pers who accept everything Christian at face value without questioning it even once. Religion is silly. It causes wars to be fought over which imaginary friend is better. Deal with it.

        November 9, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
      • zeta

        God is everything, he gave us life and without his help we are nothing.... :)

        November 9, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
      • zeta

        without God's help we are nothing.... :)

        November 9, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
      • berealistic

        @zeta "God" hasn't contributed anything worth a dam.n to this world. We are nothing without PEOPLE SUCH AS FRIENDS AND FAMILY, not an invisible floating Santa Claus in the sky.

        November 9, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
      • zeta

        @berealistic:
        I am sorry you feel this way. All I can say to you is that I am happy there is someone up there who is real and in whom we can trust and put our hopes on. Personally, without this hope and His help, I wouldn't have gotten anywhere. Some people don't have family or friends nearby, all they have is God. Hope is what gives people that push to go forward. And this is what happened to this gentleman here.

        November 9, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
      • berealistic

        @zeta That hope came from your own desire, not the work of some supernatural being trying to control your mind. Oh well, it's tough to eliminate the religious brainwashing that's gone on since early childhood for most people.

        November 9, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • Ron

      I agree with you! God helps His children!

      November 9, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Reply
      • berealistic

        Whodunnit? Goddunnit! That's always the answer to everything, right?

        "Hey, who made Mary pregnant?"
        "Eh, I dunno, maybe goddunnit!"

        Even your holy book is a cover-up story for slu.tty "Virgin" Mary!

        November 9, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
      • Ron

        If you want to choose to be by yourself without God's help... then good luck...to be on your own...

        November 9, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
      • Nate (Seattle, WA)

        Is God then also the one who took this little baby's eyes when he was one year old?

        Was your all-knowing God merely punishing him for violating one of the Ten Commandments in his first year of life? Did Baby Daniel do some work on the Sabbath?

        Do you people have any idea how ridiculous your belief system is?

        Just askin'.

        November 9, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
      • berealistic

        @Ron I have the help of family, friends and society in general and I'm living a good life. On the other hand, studies show that people who depend on religion are more likely to be unhappy and have a lower quality of life.

        November 9, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      Yup! That's how wonderful our Lord is!

      November 9, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  27. jdoe

    This makes sense. If you look closer at the picture you will see that he has fangs.

    November 9, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Reply
    • wisdom4u2

      I'm guessing you're in the 10%! LOL

      November 9, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Reply
  28. ExTexan

    I saw this guy on Real People about 20-30 years ago.

    November 9, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Reply
  29. Jim

    Buy him SIRI iphone. I'm pretty sure he's can find a friend. "Please open the pod bay doors siri"

    November 9, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Reply
  30. Stuart

    My brother has done this since he could crawl – he was blind since birth. Indoors he makes a "tst" sound by sucking behind his teeth, outdoors he does a sharp tongue click. He can "see" most reasonably sized things, but parking meters and utility pole guy wires are too small for him to detect the echoes, and he hates them. He's scary fast walking! As he gets older (approaching 60) he can't "see" quite as well as the high frequencies get lost...

    November 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  31. myslant

    I am skeptical as to the efficacy of this tounge clicking procedure, particularly out doors. One would have to possess a super human hearing ability just to hear the reflected sound waves, particularly in the presence of other sounds which would drown out the reflected wave's audibility. And this is not even considering the article's further claim that this person is able to interpret the nature of the object doing the reflecting (such as a boat or a baseball). Granted, a blind person's other senses do become more acute in order to compensate for the lack of sight. However, I think this person's claim requires further explanation before I would accept it as credible.

    November 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Reply
    • Peter

      Oooooo, maybe he's lying and making all this up so he can somehow benefit from it. Pffff. Give me a break. The guy says he can see stuff with sound, what the heck do you know? Why not believe him? Good grief.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Reply
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      Yeah, we really don't care what you're skeptical of, you flaming dee bag.

      He's not just using sonar to determine what objects surround him. He's obviously using other cognitive functions. He knows that a big object in a marina is probably a boat. He knows that a big object in the middle of the street probably is not an elephant.

      Idiots like you, who are apparently blessed with normal senses, can stroll through life without ever getting good at anything. That doesn't mean that other people can't be exceptional in ways you're too unimaginative to understand.

      Go crawl back in your hole.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Reply
    • Michele

      One of my best friends has done this ever since I have known her, which has been over 20 years. When I met her, we were in 6th grade, and all she had was a cane, which she didn't use a great deal. She didn't even get a guide dog until she was in her 20's, mainly because she had been living alone. One example, was in our Girl Scout camp. Tara would go off the high dive, swim to the surface, and do the clicking, swim her way to the ladder, and walk back to the high dive, absolutely no problem at all. That was probably one of the best ways to show people what she could do. If anyone dares to say that this isn't real, will have to deal with me. I saw it everyday, in action. I was at her house all the time, I even learned braille from her. To this day, I have no problem walking around the house in the dark, because I learned to deal with it at her house. I adapted...and I learned.
      She never lets anything stop her, and I am sure it is because of her ability to use echo location. I am sure that it helps her immensely in raising her family. I just hate that she lives so far away now.
      NEVER underestimate the power of the human brain to adapt...and NEVER underestimate the power of a friend willing to defend what her friend can do

      November 9, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Reply
  32. myslant

    I am skeptical as to the efficacy of this procedure, particularly out doors. One would have to possess a super human hearing ability just to hear the reflected sound waves, particularly in the presence of other sounds which would drown out the reflected wave's audibility. And this is not even considering the article's further claim that this person is able to interpret the nature of the object doing the reflecting (such as a boat or a baseball). Granted, a blind person's other senses do become more acute in order to compensate for the lack of sight. However, I think this person's claim requires further explanation before I would accept it as credible.

    November 9, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Reply
    • Einar Kuusk

      It's because of people like you that we aren't getting anywhere...
      And the reason why I still and prolly never will be able to fly :(

      November 9, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Reply
      • myslant

        .Einar Kuusk:

        There is a fine line between open-mindedness and gullibility. If something sounds incredible to me, I require a fuller explanation so that it jibes with my present understanding of the things (in this case, the physics of sound propagation and the limits of human sensitivity to sound), i.e., so that it appears reasonable. Otherwise, I hold it in abeyance until and in the event a reasonable explanation is provided – because I have an open mind. In this case, I need to be convinced that the limits of human sensitivity to sound is far greater than what I had supposed. Indeed, the article suggests that this blind individual can detect sound reflecting from objects several yards away, and out doors where, presumably, there are many other sounds present and (again presumably) many of which are very, very much louder than reflected sound from yards away due to the clicking of the tongue. After I get past that, detection of the object's size employing this method would not be difficult for me to accept.

        November 9, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
      • Peter

        What's there to doubt? The guy says he can make things out and actually does it. There's also a not-too-fine line between healthy skepticism and just pure want-to-doubt-it-because-I've-got-nothing-better-to-do-when-I'm-not-holding-a-tea-party-sign.

        November 9, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • Paul Young

      I am a skeptical Scientist myself and have seen this demonstrated to me firsthand by blind person. In my case, he was snapping his fingers for echo-location. Personally I also use this technique to a much more limited degree for hiking at night in the dark. If I'm in deep woods, a new moon and it's overcast it is pretty much pitch black. By clapping I can tell if there are solid objects around me and can determine some relative information of the size of those objects and density. If I can sense these things with limited practice and being a sighted person, then I am quite sure that Daniel from this story can resolve much finer detail than me! Most people filter out extraneous "noise" that doesn't help them perform their day to day activities. It's part of the brain's way of buffering the information inputs from all of our senses. From a young age we (humans) learn to filter the information that doesn't help us in our given lifestyle. It is possible to re-teach oneself to tune into the "noise" and extract useful information from it. I took a class taught by a Native American tracker on wilderness stalking. This guy was aware of so much information from the sounds around him it was uncanny. I totally believe that Daniel from this story has the abilities stated.

      November 9, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Reply
      • myslant

        Paul Young:

        I don't dispute your explanation regarding the brain's ability to deselect unwanted sound. The only issue I have difficulty accepting is the degree of sensitivity to sound this person is purported to have due to his blindness, given the level of sensitivity to sound required in this case where the article suggest that this individual is able to hear the sound of his clicking tongue reflected from objects yards away! And, please note, this is out doors (near the water) where there would likely be little or no noticeable enhancement of the sound due to an echo effect.

        November 9, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
      • Nate (Seattle, WA)

        One again, myslant .... you're an idiot.

        There is never an enhancement of sound. Enhancement is what an amplifier does to an input sound before sending it to speakers. Obviously, he has no such amplifier, nor do any other animals that use sonar.

        He is using the echo effect ... that's what sonar is. What you probably think of as echo effects are when a sound actually bounces of a surface multiple times before hitting your ear. If this were happening, that would actually make it harder on the blind guy. He'd need to figure out if the sound he was hearing was hitting his ears after 1 bounce, 2 bounces, 3 bounces, etc.

        The best you can hope for if you're using sonar is the absence of noise, or the absence of sound absorption. From that standpoint, standing next to the water is the best possible place for the guy to be. Sound carries wonderfully across water, with very little absorption, or damping. This gives his ears the clearest possible signal without needing any artificial amplification.

        The problem with this country is all manner of dum basses like yourself who think they understand science, but in reality, have no clue. Whether it's climate change, or vaccines, or hurricane warnings. You morons always think you know better.

        News flash. You don't know anything.

        November 9, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • allen

      I don't think he was saying he could tell a dog from cat, but that he could make rational and logical conclusions about what he was hearing. He could tell that there was something in the water, ie more than likely a boat as he was at a pier. As sighted people we are only guessing as to how other senses are affected by blindness.

      November 9, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Reply
      • myslant

        allen:

        I'm inclined to agree with you. It was a combination of all his functioning senses (not just his sensitivity to the reflected sound from the tounge clicking) and his mental processing of these which allowed him to determine the objects in his presence. However, the article suggests that his discerning ability was solely due to the reflected sound from his clicking tongue.

        November 9, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
      • Nate (Seattle, WA)

        Myslant,

        You complete moron. No, the article didn't suggest that. Here's the quote: "I can't tell from this distance, really, but they're solid and we're on the water – so it stands to reason." This makes it perfectly clear that he is adding reasoning to his sonar to come up with an answer.

        The article was like two paragraphs long. How did you miss that? Exactly how stupid are you? (rhetorical, you ignoramus ... I'm sure you have no idea of how big of an idiot you are)

        November 9, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
      • Jose

        Posted on Thanks so much for this post. As a writer, my auntral inclination is to stay in my cave and write my books. Marketing is hard for me, but your tips are things that I can do!Katherine KaneTraining The City Dog(available on Amazon)

        March 17, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Will S

      A sizable chunk of the mammalian brain / cerebral cortex is used to process visual input. If your brain isn't busy processing images, and especially if it never fully developed that function to being with, it very well might use the excess capacity to process other sensory input more effectively. Not unlike that 'tuned in" feeling you get when you close your eyes, clear your mind, and just listen (for a minute or two).

      November 9, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Reply
    • Suprachiasmatic

      I like how you are using scientific skepticism to analyze this. It's mentally healthy of you. As a neuroscience though I find these claims to be well within basic neuroscientific findings. Neural plasticity is incredible. Over 50% of the human cortex is involved in image processing, an incredible amount of computations, communication, and energy is required to see and analyze images especially moving ones. A healthy human does it seamlessly. When one loses the ability to see at a very young age, it's more than likely that cortex will adapt and focus it's attention on other senses in the body. Apparently his brain went straight to helping out the auditory cortex. I'm actually surprised he can't do more with the echolocation than he already can.
      This man has been practicing this practically his entire life. He has been interviewed, analyzed, and tested by scientists for over 20 years. He's the real deal. Unless you can prove he is using some other form of sensory input we don't yet know about, then you can't maintain your level of skepticism. You would be very surprised at just how well our brain interprets frequencies, it uses many many techniques to analyze and record sounds.
      Humans are mammals after all, our brains have more similarities with animals like bats than you think.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Reply
      • myslant

        You indicated that you studied neuroscience and that, in your opinion, it is indeed plausible that this blind individual can hear his tongue clicking sound reflected back from an object 50 feet away. (Such was the subject of my skepticism, not that he is able to discern the size of the object or that he incorporated other sensory clues to determine the nature of the object). Thank you for your input.

        November 10, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • Suprachiasmatic

      I like how you are using scientific skepticism to analyze this. It's mentally healthy of you. As a neuroscience though I find these claims to be well within basic neuroscientific findings. Neural plasticity is incredible. Over 50% of the human cortex is involved in image processing, an incredible amount of computations, communication, and energy is required to see and analyze images especially moving ones. A healthy human does it seamlessly. When one loses the ability to see at a very young age, it's more than likely that cortex will adapt and focus it's attention on other senses in the body. Apparently his brain went straight to helping out the auditory cortex. I'm actually surprised he can't do more with the echolocation than he already can.
      This man has been practicing this practically his entire life. He has been interviewed, analyzed, and tested by scientists for over 20 years. He's the real deal. Unless you can prove he is using some other form of sensory input we don't yet know about, then you can't maintain your level of skepticism. You would be very surprised at just how well our brain interprets frequencies, it uses many many techniques to analyze and record sounds.
      Humans are mammals after all, our brains have more similarities with animals like bats than you think.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Reply
      • Abdul

        lejyemrs17 on November 7, 2011 @IMissBritneyAlexI Well it ended may 5th and people are still posting their comments, wasn't trying to be offensive, just helpful

        February 19, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  33. gretchen

    I greatly enjoy real human interest stories like this. They are refreshing and far more interesting than what seemed like constant conditioning by the press for such a while, where we had to hear about islam and "bo" almost every day. (lower case letters intended.)

    November 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Reply
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      You're so clever. Not using capital letters for the word "Islam" and the initials of our President is a really smart way to show them disrespect.

      I'm really in awe of how ingenious you are. I actually voted for Obama, but now that I see how childish the people who don't like him are, I'm thinking about voting for one of the Republican clowns in 2012.

      I'm so glad I bothered to read your comment, paying close attention to the Cliff's Notes you left us in parentheses to help us understand how witty you really are.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Reply
  34. hum

    wow, that has been unknown for decades...

    November 9, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  35. jerryd

    The word "echolocate" makes me want to buy chocolate online.

    November 9, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Reply
  36. Blind Jay

    As someone who is losing eye sight as i get older and considered legally blind. I still find this amazing. I try clicking and people just asume i'm talking in some sort of African bush language. I'll leave my safety to my white cane and not totally rely on sounds.

    November 9, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Reply
    • Yuri

      To keep teh price To keep teh price low it is not sold in serots but on amazon and at AliveAir.com only as far as I know

      February 19, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  37. caligula

    Did you know there's a face on Mars! They think it's made by aliens! But how'd the mexicans get to Mars?
    And bigfoot is real too. He got a shave and works as a wrestler.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Reply
    • GDL

      moron

      November 9, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Reply
  38. Inky

    I am not saying that he is faking, but, let's see him do his clicking bit with a blind fold on. How do we know that he is 100% blind?

    November 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Reply
    • Self-Confidence

      Inky, that's just silly. First off, his eyes appear to be fake, rather than the echolocation. Did he get prosthetic eyes?

      Secondly, why are you concerned about him faking? I'm impressed that he started making those amazing clicks without being taught, let alone that he can echolocate.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Reply
    • jerryd

      I'm not saying you're 12 years old but how do we know you're not being stupid on purpose?

      November 9, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Reply
    • Reedy

      Watch 'extraordinary people the boy who sees without eyes' on youtube... and u will get ur answer– this guy is actually in that video too. he is using the cane too tho and u can see how just clicking and echo-locating is not sufficient enough to handle every sitution.

      November 9, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Reply
    • e

      did you read the article? it says he lost both of his eyes to cancer as an infant. How could he be faking blindness with prosthetic eyes?

      November 9, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Reply
    • Kelly

      Daniel's eyes were removed at infancy. There's no faking.

      November 12, 2011 at 1:41 am | Reply
    • Neil

      infatti quello ke vovelo dire, io odio gli enigmi ma ad altri possono piacere per il fatto ke non tutti hanno gli stessi gusti, nel 4 e 5 capitolo gli enigmi erano pochi ,per i puristi una bestemmia ma per quelli come me era una cosa ottima, nel uc non ci sono enigmi ma si spara e basta, e la cosa mi ha fatto molto piacere, ma avrei preferito dei remake,se poi fanno gli enigmi ok ma che non siano tanto complicati

      March 19, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Reply
      • Kelly

        Neil, his eyes were removed at infancy. No blindfold necessary.

        March 19, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  39. Movies!

    I wonder if filmmakers could add an echo device to their cameras so they can record echoes and add them as an extra track to films. It would be awesome to provide blind people with the ability to enjoy the visuals in the movies they can now only listen to. Doing so would probably make small children with visual impairments develop this ability with ease!

    November 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Reply
    • Irene

      There is something called Descrptive Video – where a narrated track is laid over the soundtrack of the movie so people who are blind or visually impaired know whats going on on the screen during non-dialogue parts of the movie. They wear (or bring their own) earphones to hear the narrated track. At our local movie theater, these movies are avilable all the time – and once a month, they do a "Zero-D" day where the narrated track is fed into the theater soundsystem and ALL movie guests are asked to wear sleep shades to experience the movie like someone without vision.

      November 9, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Reply
  40. I wonder...

    I wonder "how" he perceives things. Is he aware of the echos and uses conscious analysis of the timing to detect depth, material and location? Or he just represents things in his mind automatically, just as a bat likely does?
    Interestingly, dolphins can transmit "images" to each other by repeating the shape of the echoes they receive (sort of the poor-mammal telepathy). For humans, that would be the next step.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Reply
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      Do you do conscious analysis to determine how far something is from your body, when you see it with your eyes?

      Or can you kind of "calculate" without thinking that somebody that appears to be 2 feet tall might not be standing right next to you?

      November 9, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Reply
  41. Burbank

    Duh! All blind people use their ears to see. I have blind friends and have seen them do it, how do you think they navigate?? If they feel like it, they can also tell you exactly what is being said in a private conversation on the opposite side of a noisy restaurant. Why is this news? The articles on CNN get stupider every day. Soon I won't even want to read them anymore – too boring and banal!

    November 9, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Reply
    • abell1

      BURBANK!!!! I LOVE YOU! Thank you.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Reply
    • Cody

      Then quit complaining and leave. I like CNN. Whiners, a dime a dozen...

      November 9, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Reply
    • Mark-USA

      Burbank- I dug the story. Just because it's not earth shattering news that a visually impaired person uses sound to navigate & identify objects it doesn't mean it's not interesting to many. Not enough doom & gloom in the story for you (and Abell) perhaps? All news is not bad news.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Reply
      • Krzysztof

        Okay, that was one of the hdasert workouts ever! Muscles screaming the whole time Pull-ups took me around 20 minutes I guess that's what happens when you are only doing 2-3 at a time (started out doing sets of 5, then 4 and by the time I got to 50 I scaled down)!Push-ups also super tough. The good news is I did it all rx'd! Yay!I think it was 32 minutes and change Something like that Brain could hardly register anything when I was finished.

        February 19, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
      • Alvin

        lol phone ring at lol phone ring at the end Another great video Christian, thank you for all your alniysas!

        February 22, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • KKDenver

      He was describing things outside his area of navigation.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Reply
    • nelane

      this is old news ,if you lose your sight you compensate with hearing feeling and so on i seen this guys some time a go using a clicker of some sort riding bikes bla bla old news

      November 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  42. Brad

    I read that people with disabilities usually have heightened sensory powers to compensate for the disability. Good to know that this guy has better hearing than the rest of us. I still wonder how a stationary object emits sound waves for this guy to detect...

    November 9, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Reply
    • lildvel

      That's right Brad!! The most common one is people that are intellectually disabled. they have a heightened sense of stupidity!

      November 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Reply
    • KKDenver

      not "emit" but "reflect"

      November 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Reply
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      God, this country is scientifically illiterate.

      Stationary objects aren't emitting sounds for him. He makes the sounds with his mouth, they bounce off the stationary objects, and then he hears the reflected sound. Based on how long the sound takes to come back to him, he makes a "guess" about how far away it must be.

      November 9, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Reply
  43. ram

    There was another similar story of black teenager using the same echolocation to see, it is amazing how human can adopt

    November 9, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Reply
    • Grahf0

      I am glad to see someone else remembers that story. That was the blind teenager that also wanted to surf, if I remember right.

      November 9, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Reply
    • Kelly

      That teenager was actually one of Daniel's students (although the teenager, Ben, was already using echolocation when he started working with Daniel).

      November 12, 2011 at 1:44 am | Reply
      • Zaak

        Good qeoitsun, When Good qeoitsun, When it also has Tio2 UV has a better ability to kill spors, but ye if it is on high there is less chance. The other factor is that HEPA will trap the mold spores as well. Also negative ions tend to kill mold. With all three I find it does a nice job.

        February 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
      • Fernando

        I'm ptrety sure the I'm ptrety sure the month of September had absurdly low trading volume compared with other months. Can someone confirm?

        February 22, 2012 at 3:30 am |
  44. rip

    very nice but this is the 19th article in 3 yrs on this .. different people though.. discovery, NG have all had specials on people who do this for past few years. More power to them but why another article as if it was new

    November 9, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Reply
    • Kelly

      It's still important to continue to spread the word to the blind and sighted alike about the vast capabilities of the blind. You seem very well-informed, but there are still many people who would find this interesting, helpful, and inspiring.

      November 12, 2011 at 1:47 am | Reply
  45. Easy E

    Totally awesome. As an engineer and electronics experimenter/ham (KC9NMC), I'd love to work with some of these people to see if there are ways of making simple devices that could increase the range, resolution, or noise immunity of their echolocation techniques.

    More power to Daniel Kish. Great story, thanks CNN!

    November 9, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Reply
  46. Crystal J

    Now I have heard that blind people have awesome hearing and it compensates for theire lack of sight BUT I have never heard of someone clicking and being able to tell the depth of objects by just listening. Wow...this speaks volumes to what listening can do for you.

    November 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Reply
    • Crystal J

      Excuse typos.

      November 9, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Reply
  47. Mort

    Very cool

    November 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  48. Heidi1b

    Who wrote that stupid bi-line?

    November 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Reply
    • Janice

      It got you to read the article though

      November 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Reply
    • John Sutter

      Do you mean headline or byline (the author's name at the top)? I wrote both, so let me know if you have any questions. As for the headline, that's how Kish describes what he does - using sound to see the world in another way. So that's why I decided to go with that description.

      November 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Reply
      • MVancil

        Well done, and a very good story. I have heard about things like this before, and I'm glad to see that someone is approaching this as a talent that can be taught.

        November 9, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
      • Rhetoric

        @John Sutter, I liked the byline it's good nothing wrong with it, and it's rhetorical, remember this is (CNN idea) Thankz

        November 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
      • Michele

        I am wondering what makes this story news? The way that it is promoted, it makes it seem like this is something new. While it is something that is not widely known to the general public, it is definitely not new.

        In 1987, in 6th grade, I met one of my best friends. She had been blind since birth. All she had was a cane, which she didn't use a great deal. She didn't even get a guide dog until she was in her 20's, mainly because she had been living alone. One example, was in our Girl Scout camp. Tara would go off the high dive, swim to the surface, and do the clicking, swim her way to the ladder, and walk back to the high dive, absolutely no problem at all. That was probably one of the best ways to show people what she could do.

        She never lets anything stop her, and I am sure it is because of her ability to use echo location. I am sure that it helps her immensely in raising her family. I just hate that she lives so far away now. One thing I have learned is to NEVER underestimate the power of the human brain to adapt.

        November 9, 2011 at 10:58 pm |

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