Now, bats to teach visual techniques to blind children

February 10th, 2008 - 1:56 pm ICT by admin  

London, Feb 10 (ANI): Blind children in Britain will be taught a revolutionary echo-location technique copied from bats, in an attempt to help them visualise their surroundings.

The visually impaired kids will be able to build up a mental library of images of the world around them by clicking their tongue and interpreting the sound as it echoes back.

The technique, which is used by bats, dolphins and whales to find the way and hunt in the dark, is being piloted in Glasgow, where 10 children aged five to 17 are being taught by staff from the charity Visibility.

Recent studies have shown that blind people can use their advanced hearing to understand reflected sound as the distance, size and density of objects around them.

Leading paediatric ophthalmologist Professor Gordon Dutton has supported the technique and wants it to be taught to the 385,000 blind and partially sighted people in Britain.

“It’s very exciting. I have seen echo-location being used it’s quite stunning, Times Online quoted Dutton, of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow, as saying.

“Of course there will be scepticism and doubt, but the benefits are without question. It will make a massive difference to the lives of blind and visually impaired people, he added.

Echo-location was pioneered in the US, where blind people have been able to differentiate between people, trees, buildings and parked cars by the pitch and timbre of the echo they produce.

They have even been able to determine the height, density and shape of objects up to 100ft away.

The project in Glasgow was launched after a year-long visit by Dan Kish, a 41-year-old man from California who established the technique and uses it to ride a bike and even distinguish different types of fruit on trees. (ANI)

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