Ormond man learns to see using echolocation
Being blind for 13 years has left Kevin Lowe dependent in many ways, but after learning how to tap into his own echolocation abilities, he's discovered some newfound freedom.
The Ormond Beach man lost his sight after doctors surgically removed a brain tumor from him when was 17 years old. Even though he dealt with short-term memory loss and other complications after the procedure, he still graduated Seabreeze High School with his class.
Lowe, who is now a travel agent, recently learned about an organization called World Access for the Blind, who specialized in teaching FlashSonar, an advanced and activational form of active echolocation where a blind person develops perceptual ability to determine where and what things are around them, and how to effectively navigate and interact with these surroundings, according to WAB's website.
And they do so making a discrete, quiet tongue click.
"It’s kind of like fuzzy geometry," Lowe said. "When I first saw a wall, it was like a dark fuzzy gray and as soon as I saw a window opening it was a black. I was absolutely was memorized, and I told my instructor, 'It’s like I can see it.' And he said, 'The thing is, you are seeing it.'"
Lowe just returned from a seven-day trip to Los Angelos, where he studied with a WAB instructor and learned more about how the reflected echo from the tongue click allows the ear and brain to work together to construct a 3-D image.
In order to get to California, Lowe raised over $9,000 on GoFundMe. His goal was $8,000.
"Being with someone like my instructor and kind of traveling around the streets by ourselves, it gave me so much more confidence," Lowe said. "I’m using it, and the more I use it, the more I can see."