Have you ever wondered how dolphins or some whales can see in the cloudy water where they swim? I recently learned that they use a technique called echolocation which allows them to see without using their eyes. According to http://www.dolphinear.com, “Dolphins (and other toothed whales) can produce high pitched clicks. When these clicks hit an object, some of the sound will echo back to the ‘sender’. By listening to the echo and interpreting the time it took before the echo came back, the dolphin can estimate the distance of the object.”
Human echolocation has been studied since the 1950s, but was brought into the mainstream media by a blind boy named Ben Underwood. According to Wikipedia, “Some blind people have described the phenomenon not as a learned method of navigation, but as an inherent and intuitive extra sense. For example, a blind person could walk past a line of trees and feel a “pressure” at their side as they passed each tree. The cause of this would be the echo of the sound of their footsteps; however, they may not consciously be aware of this mechanism, only that the phenomenon exists and can often be relied upon to detect obstacles.”
Ben Underwood had his eyes removed at the age of three. He never considered himself handicapped, and he inspired many people with his story. Some people call him a modern day Helen Keller. He learned to use the same method as the dolphins for detecting objects in his path. As a matter of fact, you might not even realize he was blind if you met him. Ben died at age 16 in January of this year from cancer.
This is a story of courage, empowerment and perseverance. Watch this video below to see Ben Underwood and how he used echolocation to master his surroundings.