Seeing With Sound

On Wednesday, i attended a workshop being held at an organisation called Lisburn In Focus. This is an organisation run by the rnib and Lisburn counscil i think.

The workshop was all about a technique called
Echolocation
Which is basically where you would click with your tongue or fingers to gain information about your environment. The guy taking the workshop is a rehabilitation worker from Scotland. He had been trained by a man called Daniel Kish to use Echolocation.

The class started at about 11 o’clock. There was a presentation first of all about Echolocation and the different types. There are two types:passive and active echolocation. Most blind people use passive, where they can sort of sense that there is an object or an open space, without actually knowing what it was. Active echolocation is where you would either click your fingers or your tongue to know how far away an object was orwht it was.

After the presentation, a tea tray was placed in front of us and we had to make a shushing sound to find out where the tray was and when it disappeared. People who had any vision were blind folded for this.

We then had to walk around the room “shushing” and finding alcoves and doors. Again people were blind folded for this.

By the time we had done that, it was lunch time.

After lunch, it was back to the workshop again. This time, we were starting to click with our tongues. This is not as easy as it sounds. To get a decent click, you have to put your tongue at the roof of your mouth, and kind of slide it forward. It is hard to explain. After practicing this for a while, it was time to head outside to practice tongue clicking and seeing what we could find. Interestingly, there was one point where there was a hedge, but higher up from that there seemed to be a wall as it made a different sound. When there was an open space it sounded different to when there wasn’t. There was an ornament with two poles in the middle of the courtyard, which sounded totally different again.

When we all came back in, we all had a discussion about what we had found. Each person was able to give a different answer which was interesting.

Our final activity of the day was to go out in to a very wide open area outside the room where we were and click down in to the atrium below which was basically a huge reception type area below. The banister we were leaning against was doughnut shaped so one group was at one end and the other was at the other. I thought the group at the other end of the doughnut sounded like they were below us in the atrium. Some people were able to find a christmas tree in the middle of the atrium too.

We finished with a question and answer session.

I would like to thank the Lisburn in focus team and the rehabilitation worker Alex Camble for taking the workshop. Apparently Alex will be coming back in January and wants to do more in Northern Ireland.

It was a very interesting day, and while it’s good to learn the different techniques, i think i’ll stick to passive echolocation for now.