A walk with Daniel Kish, who navigates the world using “flash sonar”


Daniel Kish glides a white cane over the marble floor of the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel. He’s in Vancouver, Canada, to speak at TED2015, and he’s just been alerted by the speaker concierge that he is needed backstage for his rehearsal.

“Mr. Kish, there’s a little bit of a step there,” says a bellhop, motioning to a hump in the pavement as he swings open the hotel’s doors. But the warning is not necessary; Kish has already recognized the uneven terrain and negotiated it. As we bank a right, he slows and makes a clicking noise with his mouth. Then he takes off again.

Kish, who has been blind since he was 13 months old, navigates the world using echolocation. He creates a vacuum between his tongue and the top of his mouth, sending out flashes of sound that bounce off objects in the environment and back to him. In…

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