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Blind Taught To ‘See’ Like a Bat

A batBritish children are to be taught a pioneering bat-style echolocation technique to visualise their surroundings. The children are learning how to build up detailed images of the world around them by clicking their tongue and interpreting the sound as it echoes back.

The technique is used by animals such as bats, dolphins and whales to navigate and hunt in the dark.

Bats are able to manoeuvre around caves and catch tiny insects on the wing by emitting short bursts of high-pitched noise and reading the sound waves as they bounce back to their highly evolved ears.

There is emerging evidence that blind people can harness their sense of hearing – which is often more acute – to interpret reflected sound and create detailed mental images of their surroundings, including the distance, size and density of objects.

The technique is being piloted in Glasgow, where 10 children aged five to 17 are being taught by staff from Visibility, one of the city’s oldest charities for the blind. The children are learning how to make the clicking sound and how to use the technique even in noisy urban areas, including the underground system.

Practitioners say they can determine the height, density and shape of objects up to 100ft away.

Source: Times Online

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