Open Mind, Open Eyes

Thoughtfully Critical Responses to NPR's Batman Episodes

Thoughtful, balanced responses, including some responses from blindness professionals and blind folks.

What It Means to Walk with a White Cane

Braille Monitor, National Federation of the Blind - February, 2007
by Chris Danielsen

An evocative perspective on Ben Underwood's refusal to use a long, white cane. It is favorable to our approach with Ben, as documented in the Extraordinary People documentary, which aired several months after the publication of this article. It should be pointed out that it is our opinion that Ben was not deliberately after media sensationalism, but was rather a victim of it.

Responding to the Sunday Time

Braille Monitor, National Federation of the Blind - July, 2008
Rami Rabby

Read The Sunday Times Article Blind taught to ‘see’ like a bat. Here, we include an oppositional editorial about this article, in the interest of fairness.

Echolocation Training: is it Really something new?

BBC Radio 4 - In Touch -22 April 2008
Peter White

About our work with Danyl and Jake in Scotland. Includes a skeptical perspective, and Daniel's response. (you may need to download a program from online to hear this, but the transcript is also available.)

Sonar Boy

Slate Magazine
By Daniel Engber

Articles calling into light controversial perspectives surrounding Ben Underwood and Daniel Kish.

Exploring Blindness:Questions yet Unanswered

Braille Monitor - March, 2010
Michael Bullis

Michael Bullis, certified orientation and mobility instructor and himself totally blind from an early age, raises questions and explores research options, discussion of which many may find uncomfortable. In a brilliant articulation of perspective, he addresses our work, among other critical matters warranting attention. I had the privilege of reviewing a draft of this article for editorial comments before it was submitted. "Although we are surely more alike than different from our sighted colleagues, our differences are certainly worth understanding. I keep a list of topics I wish we understood better. Some items are obvious and require little explanation. Others require some discussion. Some will lead to inventions, while others will lead to research and new training techniques." "Daniel Kish of World Access for the Blind teaches active echolocation, which he calls 'flash sonar.' Watching his students, it is clear that they can define the characteristics of a room, playground, or mountain trail far better than those of us who simply rely on the echoes produced by our canes. ... Discussion of whether tongue clicking is weird puts the cart before the horse. First we should research a method to determine its benefits. Then blind people can decide whether the gains outweigh the social idiosyncrasy. ... shouldn't we try to understand and assess the information it conveys and try to incorporate it into our lives and those of our students? Perhaps the richer tapestry of detail that flash sonar allows would help newly blinded folks frustrated by the limited picture the cane provides. ... Although the echoes from a crisp metal cane tip can fill in some blanks in the environment, they cannot create nearly the detail that active echo-location does. ... What we have not yet done is give it a very serious look rather than a cursory glance."

Equal Expectations: A Belief Paradigm or a Politically Correct, Feel-Good Phrase?

Future Reflections - Winter/Spring 2008
California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped, Inc. (CTEVH) - March, 2007
by Eric Vasiliauskas, M.D.

This article, a poignant perspective of a father about his two blind boys, eloquently challenges teachers of blind kids to step up to the plate in equalizing expectations between blind and sighted students. It is full of helpful resources and approaches for raising blind children to meet and surmount life's chalenges, and it is extremely well thought out and referenced. It was first delivered as a Keynote to CTEVH. It includes an inspiring meeting with Daniel Kish when his first son was still a baby. "While I had heard educators in the blindness field and parents of blind children warn of the dangers of being overprotective, it wasn’t until our first CTEVH conference nine years ago, that I heard the term “equal expectations” for the first time. Dan Kish’s family was presenting a workshop and his father honed in on the concept of equal expectations. He emphasized that we must demand higher expectations of our blind youth, and that our kids need the skills to make it in the real world where they will not be given a break just because they have a visual impairment. They will not be given twice as much time as their co-workers to complete their projects. Once your child graduates, it’s survival of the fittest."

Sight for the Blind: The Growing Success of Seeing with Sound

SPIEGEL ONLINE - Spring, 2011
By Manfred Dworschak, Translated from the German by Josh Ward

"[Juan] Ruiz, the flash-sonar trainer, was also a novice at one point. He learned the technique from Daniel Kish, a California native and pioneer in echolocation for the blind. As a young man, Kish climbed steep mountain trails alone, guided only by a walking stick and the echoes bouncing off his surroundings in response to his clicks. He learned to recognize shrubs, overhanging rocks, fences and sign posts (whose carved words he could then read with his fingers). His resourcefulness has already been documented by numerous television crews, and he goes by the nickname "Batman."
"Traditional German bureaucrats have a hard time figuring out how to deal with blind people who venture off into the wildnerness by themselves. They can easily dismiss people like Daniel Kish -- with his "Batman" nickname and "No limits" motto -- as a wonder boy, a strange talent bordering on the supernatural. In Germany, there has long been a friendly disinterest in flash sonar. It's a useful skill if someone can master it, they say, but what good is it to the average blind person?"

Schoolgirl left blind after surgeon fails to spot brain tumour - May, 2011

A tragic yet hopeful article about one of our students whom we first saw in 2007, for whom we recently provided expert evidence in support of her case against the medical facility that mis-diagnosed her. We wish her all the best.

New York Times Disparages the Blind, and Responses

This includes a letter by Daniel Kish submitted in response to an article originally published in the New York Times that shamelessly aimed slanderous mis-conceptions at and about blind people. Daniel's response represents a stern and heart-felt plea to the editors of the New York Times and other publications to consider a more balanced perspective to this greivous and meanly written article. Also includes additional thoughtful, provocative, and soulful discussion.

A Blind Man's Vision of Blindness

Daniel Kish - April, 2005

This is a draft of a letter that Daniel Kish prepared in response to the "Kindness Beats Blindness" project. This pointed but diplomatic proclamation about blindness places blindness in a whole new light. Includes responses to Daniel's letter, and ensuing, thought provoking discussion.

is this blind man, Erik Weihenmayer, climbing Mt. Everest as an equal partner with his teammates?

Everest 2001

Find Out About Our Work with Erik Weihenmayer

I’m blind, but don’t assume I’m a super-sensor

The Guardian
By Ian Macrae

"I am aware that there are blind people who use echolocation to help orientate themselves in certain situations. It’s also true that there are such things as “sound shadows”, the effect that some of us get when walking alongside walls or objects, and being able to sense exactly where they are, even though we can’t see them: it’s a sensation somewhere between hearing and feeling. My belief is that everyone has this sensory ability, but it’s just that, as blind people, we tend to access it more readily. Sighted people could also recognise sound shadows, but they don’t find they need to do so."

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