One man’s experience using “flash sonar” to see

Misconceptions of what it would be like to be blind are abundant among the sighted in our community. Thinking of people who are blind as living in darkness, or having a lack of knowledge are not uncommon for those who have never made the effort to truly understand being blind from the perspective of someone who is blind. In the TedTalk below, Daniel Kish discusses such ill-conceived notions, as well as his reality and experiences as a blind person. In raising him, Kish states, his parents placed his freedom as a priority above all else, leading him to think of himself as an average person, with the experiences and responsibilities expected of adults in the United States, such as paying taxes and moving out of his parents’ house upon reaching adulthood. Kish illustrates his version of seeing through what he calls “flash sonar,” a process in which Kish forms a 360 degree view of his surroundings through clicking his tongue to spark images in his brain. Kish has taught flash sonar to others, both people who are blind and sighted, and has found a common interest in learning the fascinating skill in many people. As Kish states, “I do not use my eyes; I use my brain.”

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Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.