[AI] Responding to the Sunday Times

mahendra galani at chello.at
Sun Jun 29 03:57:54 EDT 2008

i fully support  view's of  MR Avraham Rabby

At 07:57 AM 6/29/2008, you wrote:
>I have pasted this article from Braille Monitor, July 2008.
>                        Responding to the Sunday Times
>                               by Avraham Rabby
>                                 ************
>       From the Editor: On February 10, 2008, the Sunday Times of London
>carried a story about plans to teach echolocation to blind students in
>Scotland and other places in the United Kingdom. The reporter clearly
>bought into the notion that producing sounds to help determine one's
>location was a wonderful new concept. Longtime Federationist Rami Rabby had
>no intention of ignoring the opportunity to educate the reporter even if
>the newspaper chose not to publish his response. The reporter did reply,
>though it is fair to comment that he has not yet recognized his lack of
>understanding. Here is the story followed by Rami Rabby's response:
>                                 ************
>                        Blind Taught to See like a Bat
>                               by Mark Macaskill
>                                 ************
>       Blind British children are to be taught a pioneering bat-style
>echolocation technique to visualize 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 maneuver 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 ten children aged
>five to seventeen 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.
>       Blind people in America, where human echolocation was pioneered, have
>learnt to differentiate between people, trees, buildings, and parked cars
>by interpreting the pitch and timbre of the echo they produce.
>Practitioners say they can determine the height, density, and shape of
>objects up to one hundred feet away. People using echolocation can
>determine the distance they are from an object by the length of time it
>takes for the sound to travel back. Its position can be established by
>whether the echo hits the left or right ear first. The size of an object
>can be determined by the intensity of the echo. A smaller object reflects
>less of the sound wave. The object's direction of movement can be
>established by the pitch of the echo, which is lower if it is moving away
>from the source.
>       Echolocation has been endorsed by Professor Gordon Dutton, one of
>Britain's leading pediatric ophthalmologists, who wants the technique to be
>taught to blind and visually impaired people across the country. There are
>about 385,000 registered blind and partially sighted people in Britain.
>"It's very exciting," said Dutton, of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children
>in Glasgow. "I have seen echolocation being used-it's quite stunning. It
>has been demonstrated to me that it absolutely works. Of course there will
>be skepticism and doubt, but the benefits are without question. It will
>make a massive difference to the lives of blind and visually impaired
>       The project in Glasgow follows a visit last year by Dan Kish, a forty-
>one-year-old blind man from California, who pioneered the technique. Kish,
>who runs the not-for-profit organization World Access for the Blind, has
>also been commissioned by the charity Common Sense to present his method to
>the families of blind people in Poole, Dorset.
>       His command of the technique is such that he can ride a bicycle on
>public roads and distinguish between different types of fruit on trees
>merely by clicking his tongue. A video on the Website YouTube shows Kish
>and a number of his friends demonstrating their skills. Ben Underwood, a
>teenager who lost his sight when he was three, has also become a celebrity
>in America because of his ability to use echolocation to ride a bike and to
>go skateboarding.
>       Although there have been no scientific studies of echolocation,
>supporters say it can hugely improve the lives of blind and partially
>sighted children. While using a cane allows blind people to identify
>obstacles in their path, echolocation is said to provide 360-degree
>"vision" and can give them far greater freedom.
>       "It's a type of seeing in its own right, which probably uses similar
>brain imaging mechanisms to eyesight," Kish said. "Students almost
>invariably become more confident, move faster, and participate in more
>activities," he continued. "They show improved posture and regard
>themselves as more able to direct themselves through their environment with
>less need for others. They are freer, and better able to choose the quality
>of life they wish to achieve, rather than have this chosen for them."
>       Fiona Sandford, chief executive of Visibility, added: "This is a
>pioneering technique that will transform the lives of young blind children.
>We have trained four visually impaired adults, and they are now using their
>skills to train children. We hope to roll this out to adults. I have seen
>it being used, and it works."
>       Belgium's federal police use a unit of blind officers specifically
>for their acute sense of hearing in analyzing phone taps and bugged
>conversations in investigations of terrorism, drug trafficking, and
>organized crime. The detectives can separate the voices of different
>speakers and pick up sonic clues such as whether a suspect is in a railway
>station or a restaurant or whether the caller is using a landline or mobile
>phone. Some officers have even identified the make of car suspects are
>       A detective in Antwerp, Sacha van Loo, thirty-six, who is trained in
>echolocation, correctly identified a drug smuggler as Albanian from his
>accent when sighted colleagues thought the man was Moroccan. Hollywood has
>also depicted the heightened senses of the blind. In the 2003 film
>Daredevil, Ben Affleck plays a New York lawyer, blinded in childhood, who
>transforms himself into a masked crime-busting superhero by night, using
>his acute hearing as a radar sense to see through the dark.
>                                 ************
>       In his article, "Blind Taught to See like a Bat" (Sunday Times,
>February 10), Mark Macaskill unfortunately created some serious
>misimpressions as to how blind people typically orient themselves in their
>surroundings. In the process he also promoted a false notion of what the
>central problem facing the blind is in today's society. Echolocation is not
>a "pioneering" technique; it is the method blind people have always
>employed to negotiate the environment around them. Some blind people do use
>tongue-clicking to generate the echo that helps them locate and identify
>objects in their immediate vicinity. Other blind people clap their hands or
>click their thumbs. However, most commonly and most effectively, blind
>people use the simple tapping of their canes to achieve the same result, as
>well as other ambient sounds, such as the noise of a passing car or the
>hawking of a street vendor. Blind people's hearing is not innately more
>acute than that of the sighted. We tend to listen for sounds and pay
>attention to them more than most sighted persons do, but that is a skill we
>develop with practice, each one of us to a greater or lesser degree.
>Finally, it is high time professional caregivers and the general public
>ceased trying to make us "see," in the belief that the crux of our problem
>is our blindness. We will only achieve true freedom when they accept us as
>we are, recognize that we individually have as wide a range of capabilities
>and shortcomings as any sighted person, and grant us equal employment
>opportunities and full participation in society.
>Avraham Rabby, Tel-Aviv Israel
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with warm regards
        Mahendra Galani
window's live ID mahendragalani at hotmail.com       skype ID chintu3886
phone +4314943149 mobile +4369910366055,
address Herbst strasse 101.16.1 Vienna Austria Europe

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