This Blind Man Developed Another Way To See The World

After a tough start in life, Daniel Kish took control of his situation and transformed not only just his but thousands of other peoples lives. This touching story would leave you feeling nothing more than inspired.

In The Beginning

Born in California, Daniel Kish’s had a difficult start in life when he lost his sight at a young age. When he was just a baby, Daniel had a rare form of cancer called retinoblastoma, which led him to lose both of his eyes. Understandably, at first, this was something he and his family worried about, but he soon changed his life.

Quality Of Life

Daniel has made a huge difference to his own life and that has now led him to extend his quality of life to other people. He will tell you, that he can now see, even without both of his eyes. And you will never believe how he did it.

Such A Young Age

Kish didn’t have the easiest start in life as he was born with retinoblastoma. This type of cancer attacks the retina and at just seven months old, he lost his right eye. Then at 13 months old, due to complications, he then had to have his left eye removed – but this was in order to save his life. But he has never let that stop him.

His Strong Personality

Kish has always had a bubbly personality and as he got older, he has found strength in public speaking. His strong spirit had always shined through, and during a Ted Talk in 2015, he openly spoke about life after his operation. Talking to the audience, he told them how he climbed out his cot and joked he was “looking for the person who did this to me”.

Wanted An Adventure

As he left the hospital and began life at home as a blind child, he soon realized that losing his sight wasn’t going to stop him and he became obsessed with seeking out an adventure. At aged just two years old, he snuck out of his house, into the backyard and climbed over his neighbors’ fence! And he didn’t stop there.

Writing In His Journal

Writing a journal was important to Kish and something he enjoyed doing when writing about his desire for an adventure, he wrote, “I was in the habit of exploring whatever I sensed around me.” It was at this age that his body started to uniquely change and adjust to not being able to see.

His Body Adapted

Kish’s brain had started to search for another way to see, and although he didn’t understand it so much when he was younger, he began to make certain noises with his tongue. The sound was that of a clicking noise, which he eventually understood as a way to understand his surroundings – but it was a while until he realized that was the case.

Developing Another Sense

Amazingly, it was a whole ten years until Kish understood what the clicking noise related too, and it was his friend who pointed it out. His brain had adapted to making a sound that would create an echo, meaning that Kish could hear the clicks bouncing from different surfaces. And there was more.

Creating A Mental Image

When making the noise, Kish began to understand that as the high-pitched sound bounced off each surface, a different noise would be sent back. Adapting, even more, he adjusted to understand, that he could create a mental image of the object, depending on the sound he heard bouncing off it.

Certain Technique

Kish was overwhelmed with how his body had adapted to losing his eyesight and it was something he began to look into even further. During research, he discovered that the technique he had developed was called echolocation and that certain animals used the technique as a means of communication.

Animals Use It Too

For Dolphins and Bats, echolocation is their way of understanding their surroundings. And Kish was doing exactly that. During an interview in 2012, he said, “You send out a sound or a call and sound waves are physical waves – they bounce back from physical surfaces. So if a person is clicking and they’re listening to surfaces around them they do get an instantaneous sense of the positioning of these surfaces.”

No Barriers
No Barriers Summit
Park City, Utah
2015

Ancient Method

Today, echolocation is commonly noted in animals, and so it was something that shocked a lot of people. When looking even further to the technique, Kish discovered that there are writings from the 1700s that state humans were regularly using the method to find objects that they couldn’t see.

They Thought He Was A Superhero

With his fantastic skills, Kish soon earned himself a very cool nickname with many people calling him Batman. As great as the reference was, he didn’t believe his new talent was at all superhuman. He was grateful and trusted the process his body had made to ensure he had a fulfilling life. When he was asked how he felt about it, he said, “Anyone could do it, sighted or blind. It’s not rocket science.”

His Feelings

For most visually impaired people, they spend most of their time walking with a white stick, but for Kish, this is something he had difficulty doing. Along with his prosthetic eyes and his fantastic technique, he didn’t like to identify himself as ‘blind’.

Just An Inconvinience

Due to his echolocation technique, he was perfectly able to be amongst the rest of the world, without suffering and without needing an awful lot of help. This was something he was very proud of, and understandably so. In his biography, he writes, “Blindness… should be understood – by both the blind and the sighted – as nothing more than an inconvenience.”

Combining Technique And Knowledge

Alongside his developed technique, he did a lot of research on it himself, which enabled him to fully understand what he could do and how he could use it. Through combing both the technique and his knowledge, Kish was able to ride a bike and going on hikes. He made sure he continued to study, and he excelled.

His Love For Education

When it came to Kish finishing school, in which he left with the title ‘Best Brain’, he enrolled at several universities, including CSU LA, California Riverside, and California State University San Bernardino. Kish loved school and soaked up all he was taught, graduating with two master’s degrees – one in developmental psychology and the other in special education.

Then He Had An Idea

While at university, Kish dreamt of becoming a psychologist, but as he understood his echolocation technique, even more, he decided that he wanted to use it to help other people. Kish was now calling the technique, flash sonar. It was then in 2000 that he had an idea.

Open An Organization

It was in the same year, that Kish took a chance on his dream and founded a non-profit organization. Using what he had learned, through his life and at university, he opened, World Access For The Blind, where he used psychology, education, and training to show others what he could do. World Access’ mission was “to teach blind [people] to see in a new way.

Funding Trouble

While Kish was trying to change people’s lives, there had been a devasting terrorist attack on America that shook the whole country and its economy. Funding dropped, and Kish told how it was a trying time for him and his organization, “Without meaning to sound dramatic, my cupboards were bare.”

Changing People’s Lives

Eventually, there was a rise in funding and the organization was able to continue, blossoming along the way. Alongside his coaches, Kish has been able to transform thousands of people’s lives with improving and developing their orientation and mobility. And it hasn’t just helped Americans, the project has gone out to 40 other countries.

No Longer Sat On The Couch

During an interview with a student from World Access For The Blind, Success magazine was told that the organization had “opened up the possibilities for blind people”. The student was Brian Bushway, who before he met Kish, spent most of his time “marooned on a couch listening to books on tape.” But that wasn’t the case anymore.

Now He Is A Coach

Following his triumphant development with the organization, Bushway quickly became one of the coaches working there. Speaking about Kish, he said, “He lived independently, rode his bike everywhere, had gone to college on his own. I said to myself, this guy does it all. If he can figure out how, I can, too.”

Flying To Australia

Kish was continuously doing all he could to make a difference to people’s lives and when a lady named Julee-Anne Bell contacted him all the way from Australia, he knew he had to meet her, and it wasn’t long until he jetted off to teach her flash sonar. Bell, who was born blind said, “[Those eight days] quite literally changed my life.”