Kish’s organization, World Access for the Blind, trains the visually impaired to achieve greater freedom and mobility through echolocation, a technique that simulates a bat’s night vision of perceiving the environment through sound.
Daniel Kish is a self-described “real-life batman” who uses echolocation to navigate the physical world. Kish, who has been blind since he was an infant, depends on the click of his tongue to send sound waves out into the environment. Those waves bounce off his surroundings and return information to him through his sense of hearing. His ear is now so finely tuned that he can ride a bike through busy streets or go for a hike in the woods unaccompanied. In fact, neuroscientists have shown that his brain responds to acoustic signals as if they were visual stimuli.
But the most remarkable thing about Kish isn’t his sensory talent. It’s the way he has used it to empower sight-impaired individuals through his organization, World Access for the Blind. “We work with hundreds of thousands of students all over the world who cannot open their eyes. Yet the students we work with don't harken to the ideas of fear and limitation and restriction,” he told PopTech participants this morning. “We have found a way to help them open their eyes, to reclaim their freedom, to reestablish their own capacity to direct their lives in the manner of their own choosing.”