Today we’re filming with Daniel Kish, an extraordinary teacher of ‘echolocation’ for blind people. Completely blind himself, here he is riding a bike. He’s able to ‘see’ his environment by making tongue-clicks and then interpreting the return of the sound. I’ve just been walking around an estate with him, and listened to him describe the environment in detail, even buildings a hundred yards away. He plays laser-tag, rides bikes and skateboards, ice skates and plays basketball with his blind students. It’s an extraordinary ability. I can’t even get off a bike without falling over.
He is able to organize his world spatially, which is what he teaches: something the rest of us take for granted. But a lot of blind people organize temporally: objects are so many seconds away rather than spatially placed. Watching him trace the shape of a car with his hand, I was intrigued by the fact he had what sounded like a visual ‘space’ for the vehicle, but no visual representation to put in that space. His reply to this conundrum of how he populates his spatial world without visual objects was extraordinarily vivid. He drew a parallel with listening to a live orchestra, and that sense of a sound environment. The world, he explained, is a symphony of sound, but the objects in it do not make sound: they reflect it.
The world as a symphony of reflected sound. A beautiful and fascinating image for those of us who instinctively, wrongly presume that a blind person must be at a disadvantage.
Amazing morning.