Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Inspiration, Ben Underwood Dies at age 16

Ben UnderwoodImage by ZacharyTirrell via FlickrBen Underwood died at age 16, buried on Jan 26th, what would have been his 17th birthday. Ben was the initial inspiration for this blog and opened my eyes, so to speak, to a whole new way of realizing the senses.

As a small child Ben was blinded by Retinoblastoma, a cancer in the eyes. But his total lack of vision did not prevent him from doing anything he enjoyed. He still had no fears of taking up biking, rollerblading, basketball, and he lived his life as any other kid would, and did not allow himself to by "handicapped" by his situation. He learned as a child that he could hear reflections of sounds that bounced off of surrounding objects. He devised a certain "click" that he could make to interpret the objects around him. He was full of ambition and made it his life's work to perfect these techniques. Many blind people have begun to use echolocation, but Ben's talent was remarkable and he was the only person (as far as I know) who could distinguish the difference between objects as small as a stapler and a coffee mug on the table.

As I said, Ben Underwood inspired this blog and I will continue it, not only as a means to capture my meandering experience, but also as a thank you and tribute to him.

Thank you for your inspiration Ben, and your contributions to mankind. They will live on forever.

If you would like to leave a message or give a donation to Ben's family, you can do so at his website:

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

I found my car in the parking lot using Echolocation!

Today I found my car in the parking lot using echolocation!

I was coming out of the gym this evening, and there was about 60 feet to walk to my car. I took a look around at the pattern of cars so I knew how many there were between me and my car, and I knew what to look for. I also had a straight shot between myself and the car, but I closed my eyes and committed to finding it. I began to click using the "blade pop" (see Description) I turned my head from side to side, because I'm finding that the blade pop is not very good at revealing objects to the sides of the head - the "giddyup" is much better at this. I made out the several cars before mine and I knew there was an empty spot before my car. I located the empty spot and anticipated my car. I heard it right when I expected it, passed to the driver's side and stopped when I found the space between the driver's side of the car and the large snow bank. I opened my eyes, and voila!

Maybe next time I'll try going for the door handle...

Free 10-Minute Audio Lesson: Learn the Echolocation Click

Learn echolocation clicks with a free audio lesson
Learning how to click is one of the first steps to becoming an effective echoloator. This lesson provides clicking samples of a variety of different clicks and descriptions of when they might be most useful. This lesson has been used by O&M instructors all over the world.

Despite popular belief, it's easy to make your clicking quite subtle or unnoticeable even in quiet settings. There are many different clicks for different situations. I explain all of these in great detail and give examples of where, why and when they can and should be used.

Get your free lesson now:

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