Extreme Echolocators

Daniel Kish – A Master Of Echolocation

Last Updated on August 29, 2020 by Darshan Modi

Daniel Kish
Daniel Kish


Daniel Kish has been blind since he was a year old and has has taught himself to see using sound waves.


Daniel Kish was born in 1966 in Montebello, California.

Early Life

Daniel Kish was born with retinoblastoma, an aggressive form of eye cancer. By the time he was thirteen months old both his eye’s had been removed to save his life.
As a very young child, Daniel started making clicking noises to identify where objects were located in his surroundings.
When he was eleven years old, one of his friends recognised that he was using the echo of the sounds, how they bounced back of objects, to “see” where they are. This is the same techniques that bats use.
Daniel’s younger brother Keith was also born with retinoblastoma, but miraculously the doctors managed to save his sight.
Retinoblastoma is a genetic disease but strangely enough neither of Daniels parents suffered from it.
Daniel attended main-stream schools and relied on his echolocation skills to help him get around.
At eight years old, while doing dive bombs on his bicycle he crashed into a light pole. Daniel had a reputation as being a daredevil – despite his being completely blind !
In middle school he won an award for having the best brain in the school.
Daniel graduated High School with an impressive GPA score of 4.0 and was voted the most likely to succeed in his grade.
Daniel went on to attend the University of California and earned two Masters degrees in special education and developmental psychology.

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About Daniel Kish

Daniel Kish wrote his Thesis at University on the subject of Echolocation and although he has been doing it all his life, this was the first time he studied the concept properly.
Daniel became the first completely blind person in the USA to be certified as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist. In other words a completely blind person who helps visually impaired people to get around.
Daniel became very aware that the freedom he enjoyed as a blind person using echolocation was something very few blind people experienced. He gave up his dream of being psychologist to help teach as many of visual impaired as possible how to see using sound.
In 2000, Daniel started his movement to help blind people hear.His movement is called World Access for the Blind.
Daniel believes the world should not be treating the blind differently and the blind should seeing themselves as disabled, but that all should only be seeing blindness as an inconvenience.
As his eyes were removed as a child, Daniel now wears prosthetic eyeballs, with light brown irises for his public appearances.
Daniel was voted as as one of the most popular presenters on TED talks.
Today Daniel lives in Long Beach California where he does motivational talks for events in addition to his work through his foundation, World Access for the Blind.

Genetic Or Learned

Daniel’s ability is self taught. From an early age he made clicking sounds to identify where objects in his surroundings were.

Official website

Daniel Kish Youtube Videos

Featured In

  • The Human Body – With Audio Level 3 Fact-files Oxford Bookworms Library – Alex Raynham – (2015)
  • The ACE Abundance: 12 Amazing Ways to Live An Abundant Life Everyday – Murali Murthy (2015)
  • Early Focus: Working with Young Blind and Visually Impaired Children and their families – Rona L. Pogrund, Diane L. Fazzi, American Foundation for the Blind – (2002)
  • Spaces are you listening ? Experiencing Aural Architecture – Barry Blesser, Linda-Ruth Salter – (2009)
  • The Oxford Handbook of Cultural Neuroscience – Joan Y, Chiao, Shu-Chen Li, Rebecca Seligmen – (2016)
  • Perspectives on Auditory research – Arthur N. popper, Richard R. Fay -(2014)
  • Agile Engagement: How to drive lasting results by cultivating a flexible, responsive and collaborative Culture – Santiago Jaramillo, Todd Richardson – (2016)
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Books Published

  • Evaluation of an Echo-mobility Program for Young Blind People – 1995