Lucas Murray

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Lucas Murray (born c. 2002), from Poole, Dorset, was born blind, but is one of the first British people to learn to visualise his surroundings using a technique similar to bats and dolphins, called echolocation. By the echo caused by clicking his tongue on the roof of his mouth, Murray can identify how close objects are, and what they are made of. He was taught the technique by another blind person, Daniel Kish from California.

Biography[edit]

Murray was born in Poole in Dorset with complex medical needs including Septo-Optic Dysplasia (S.O.D.). He was blind from birth but this was not confirmed until he was 5 months old. At this stage his parents, Sarah and Iain, believed his blindness would cause him problems.[1] However, Sarah and Iain watched a documentary about a young American called Ben Underwood,[2] a boy who used echo-location that he had taught himself to a very high level. In the documentary, Daniel Kish, founder of the World Access for the Blind charity,[3][4] spoke about not only echo-location but the importance of a Long Cane. Many months after seeing the documentary on television,[1] Sarah discovered that Daniel would be visiting a Scottish Charity called Visibility,[5] so contacted him and asked if he could visit Lucas.[6] Daniel Kish, a 41-year-old blind Californian, alongside Brian Bushway from World Access For The Blind [7] taught the basics of echo-location and the importance of a suitable Long Cane to Lucas over the course of four days in 2007.[7][8] Sarah says that the echo-location and "No Limits Approach"[14] has given Lucas a "fantastic future".[7] His parents have set up a charity called Common Sense,[15][16] which aims to provide support for parents and carers of visually impaired children. They also offer long white canes to children in the UK, through The Common Sense Children's Cane Bank.

Using echolocation[edit]

Lucas' mother Sarah says that, at seven years old, his independence is improving almost every day, and can play with other children in sports such as rock climbing and basketball.[7][8][9] Lucas identifies the distance of objects by timing the time that the echo from him clicking takes to return, and from the sound which bounces back he can also tell the density and shape.[4][6] Lucas is the first British pupil to receive a comprehensive program in advanced echo-location,[8][10][11] and was nicknamed "Bat Boy" by the UK's Sun Newspaper,[12] because of the similarity between echolocation and the use of sonar to picture surroundings used by bats.[13] Kish is reported to have said that Lucas' "mobility is amazing", and that he is the "best for his age in the UK".[4] However, Kish wrote to Lucas' parents and other reporters, unpublished, that he actually said, "Lucas' mobility is among the best in the U.K. for his age in my experience." Lucas says that he really likes the system.[8] Lucas also uses a Long White cane to find objects near his feet. He uses an AmbuTech Telescopic Cane because it is light in weight and has a ceramic tip. At the proper length, it comes up to his nose when upright.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Lucas learns echo technique to 'see'". Daily Echo. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  2. ^ http://www.benunderwood.com/
  3. ^ http://www.worldaccessfortheblind.org/
  4. ^ a b c "Blind boy uses his ears to 'see'". BBC News. 5 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  5. ^ http://www.visibility.org.uk/
  6. ^ a b "'Batboy' Lucas sees with his ears". The Press Association. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  7. ^ a b c Sims, Paul (6 October 2009). "The blind seven-year-old 'Bat Boy' who sees the world by clicking his tongue and listening for the echoes". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  8. ^ a b c d Irvine, Chris (5 October 2009). "Seven year old blind boy uses echoes to see". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  9. ^ http://www.actionforblindpeople.org.uk/
  10. ^ Pyatt, Jamie (5 October 2009). "BLIND a technique Daniel Kish calls "FlashSonar". Lucas Murray has been nicknamed Batboy - after learning to "see" using his ears". London: The Sun. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  11. ^ http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/blind-year-boy-sees-ears/story?id=8776553
  12. ^ Pyatt, Jamie (5 October 2009). "Blind batboy". The Sun. London.
  13. ^ "Blind seven-year-old boy learns to "see" using his ears". Mirror. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-08.