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Coping with Blindness: Seeing with Sound

Posted on April 9th, 2015

Imagining a life without sight is difficult, because vision is so commonly used for everyday activities. However, there are many people who get by without the use of sight by relying on other senses, which tend to be sharper when vision is lost. In extraordinary cases, individuals with total blindness can use sound to gain a sense of their surroundings with the accuracy of sight.


A Unique Individual’s Talent

A young man named Ben Underwood is an amazing case study in seeing with sound. Having spent most of his life without the use of his eye, Ben developed a nearly superhuman skill called echolocation. Using audible clicks in a steady stream, Ben hears how these sounds echo from surrounding objects. This gives him a sense of where and what things are in the same way that some animals navigate. A skillset of this nature is not common to all individuals with vision loss, but this is an example of the extraordinary senses that can be developed through a lack of sight.

Adjusting to Vision Loss

There are several conditions that can lead to vision loss; some present gradual vision loss where others will cause rapid blindness. In either case, it takes work to adjust to relying on your remaining senses. Even individuals with extremely advanced echolocation skills like those of Ben Underwood have invested hard work into learning to live without sight.

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