November 28, 2006
Comments (53)
  1. rwalter44 says:

    This is amazing!!!

    1. mrmuslim says:

      yeah iknow im muslim

  2. Rick Broussard says:

    It seems too amazing to be true. I’m tempted to believe there’s some kind of a hoax going on. I can just barely imagine how human echolocation could reveal a fallen trashcan, but the video game could not possibly provide sound clues to the precise location of someone firing at you. The foosball table also seems like an unlikely spot for sound or smell or touch to provide sufficient information to beat any sighted person.

  3. LeighAnn says:

    I have seen this before….he is incredible!

    1. This is Daniel Kish. I worked with Ben Underwood, God rest him, and I have taught or supervised the teaching of over a-thousand blind people in over 40 countries.

      I do understand the scepticism around echolocation, and welcome it as long as it is open and reasonable. Many “blind vision” cons have come and gone. But, they are all found out eventually. Some of our students did their research before commiting to having us work with them. So have I just now, Inspired by this article.

      If one Googles “human echolocation” [or] “Daniel Kish” “hoax” [or] “scam”, one does find some idle speculations about the possibilities of hoax or scam, but one finds zero studies or media pieces that actually unveil or reveal or “prove” any kind of deception or mis-identification of the phenomenon. One well known and very well regarded sceptic did conduct an investigation of my demonstrations, and found them credible:
      Derren Brown Show – September, 2009

      In fact, the human use of echolocation has come under rigorous scientific study, dating back to the first series of well-controlled studies from the 1940’s, and culminating in current brain scan research. Here is a replete compendium of scientific studies of the matter:

      It is true that blindsight is a legitimate and well studied phenoIndeed, Ben had no eyes. This is well documented and demonstrated. It is true that they do show him playing a video game, but they do not imply that he used echolocation to do so. His own explanation for doing so does not implicate echolocation. He did so through a complex memory of sound patterns, which is a related but distinct skill. Someone who does not echolocate at all could do this and, in fact, many blind kids do. I, also, do not have eyes. This, too, is well documented and publically demonstrated.

      J Louchart, one of our instructors, also does not have eyes. He is shown demonstrating and explaining echolocation in this Weather Channel documentary:
      The Human Eclipse – J Louchart – Short Edit

      Here is a most thought-provoking demonstration of the imaging process behind echolocation, executed for Discovery Daily Planet by another one of our instructors, Brian Bushway:
      IS It Possible to See without Sight? – Brian Bushway

      Brian does have his eyes, but his optic nerve is completely dead, leaving him with no light perception at all. This, too, is well documented. Brian’s eyes work perfectly well, but the absence of optic nerve functioning precludes any light from entering his brain.

      One last series of demonstrations for those interested, executed by another one of our blind instructors, Juan Ruiz:
      Super Human Challenge – Juan Ruiz

      It is difficult to imagine how a phenomenon based in hoax or fantasy would rise to maintain such a position of prominence in the public eye and among top scientists and institutions. Of course, there are plenty of tabloid publications and programs just looking for a quick sensation, but high profile publications are more likely to do their homework to ensure a credible basis before show-casing a given person or phenomenon. In our case, such has included National Geographic Magazine:

      the Smithsonian:

      and the Chronical of Philanthropy:

      and broadcasts such as CNN International’s Sanjay Gupta:

      and ABC’s 20/20:

      – to name a scant few.

      The brain scan and psycho-physical research has been published in peer reviewed journals which also do their due diligence.

      Many media producers actually do require us to submit medical reports detailing our extent of blindness, although removing my eyes and laying them on the table is usually sufficient…

      As for echolocation becoming a state-of-the-art in the field? … that’s a good point, and a whole other discussion. Suffice it to say that we have been commissioned to provide extensive trainings and workshops throughout most of the U.S. and countries on every inhabited continent. So, while our methods have not been warmly embraced as part of best practice in the blindness field, we are strongly regarded by ardent supporters. For example, two of our instructors will be delivering three weeks of trainings in Croatia to prepare blind instructors their to teach our techniques. One of our instructors has delivered 24 weeks of workshops under the Ministry of Education in Austria to teach our approach to every teacher of blind kids throughout Austria, and we’ve had similar interest in Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany (for blind toddlers) Chile, and others.

      I trust this helps to clarify any mis-conceptions or mis-givings.

  4. jlawler32 says:

    He’s unbelievable!He can see better with no eyes than I can with two!——jlawler32

  5. Cap'n Hook says:

    It may be hard to believe, but it could def. be true. As to the videogame, it all depends on what game you’re playing, obviously some games won’t work. In college though I watched my roommate beat people left and right in Tekken while sitting BESIDE the TV, facing away from it.

    Did I hear correctly that Ben’s mother’s name was “Aquanetta”?

  6. Anonymous says:

    *holds up paper*

    Hey Ben, what colour is this paper?

    Yeah, that’s what I thought. You’re blind to the whole EM spectrum and I’m not. I win =D

  7. Anonymous says:

    that’s a little harsh. he may not be able to see the colors, but he can see everything else. you don’t win, he wins.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Echolocation is actually pretty easy to do–so long as you’re in a quiet environment and get a week of practice–although identifying a ‘soft’ object might take a while.. I mean lets see this kid walk around in downtown NY and if he can navigate without a stick or a dog then yeah, he’s the real deal.

  9. Anonymous says:

    he “sees” better than you do in a pitch black room, or out in the wilderness at midnight with no moon+overcast.

    On the other hand, I can tell the difference from a car and a trashcan way better than he can, and given a flashlight, and with even adim light source my vision can match his echolocation.

    Bats still do it better

  10. Anonymous says:

    For those of you saying that you are better than him, you’re not. And for the person that said bats are better, they are able to do this naturally where as he had to teach himself how to do it.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Sad how many of you are threatened by a blind kid…

  12. Anonymous says:

    I saw the documentary on tv. It was really really cool. I never thought that people could do something like that.

  13. Anonymous says:

    For the videogame, it all depends on what videogame you’re playing. He’s playing a fighting game, Dragonball Z it looks like. The characters probably autofocus on one another, so learning what attacks to use is simple enough. I seriously doubt he could play something like God of War, however. That truly is amazing. Marvelous indeed.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I disagree with the idea that foosball cannot be played without sight. Foosballs make very clear noises when moving on a table, and aside from that you can feel the vibration of the ball moving around the table with your hands on the rods. Surely the best sighted foosball player in the world would beat a blind person, but I can easily see a lousy sighted foosball player losing to someone obviously as advanced as Ben in echolocation.

    Video games is another matter, he is certainly not using echolocation to play those games, he is using the sound generated by the games to play, which is not echolocation. The thing is many video games these days actually use very advanced stereo spatial sound location when programming the sound in games to give more realistic game ambience and experience. The question is if those are good enough to play the game alone? Maybe and maybe not, really depends on how well the sound was programmed and how unique every sound is made when an action is done. Ben would never beat someone at pong, the sound being mono and gives no indication the differences in any movement of where the ball or paddle is on screen. Today’s advanced 3D shooters or fighting games, there are probably tons of auditory clues we never knew or cared to know about, but he obviously has picked up on. Could he outplay the best of the best sighted players, probably not, but he still has fun and that’s just amazing.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I have watched the documentary on Ben, on the TV. It is just incredible what he is capable of doing. I really salute Ben for his determination to be like anyone of us, ‘seeing’ people.

  16. kokomoto says:

    to all those people who say they can do better, you cant. i’d like to see you go around for a week with no eyes and still be able to tell the difference between a car and a trashcan.

  17. Scotty says:

    To those that think that this was a hoax I assure you it is not. I live a few miles away from Ben and have seen him around and he does navigate with echo. Although there are some limitations still to his ability it is still absolutly amazing. And talk about a kick-a** mom!

  18. Jessamyn says:

    Since he is so good with using sound to find his way around a video game, and since sound differentiation is his specialty, maybe he should be employed as an Alpha or Beta tester for those games where the makers are aiming for realistic sound placement.

    …and many of your readers have the maturity level or a slug. >.< The boy is doing something abnormal and exceptional.

  19. gretchencore says:

    he was on oprah if it matters at all. lol

  20. geo says:

    It doesn’t, actually.

  21. Kissycougar says:

    This boy is truly inspiring, I hope other challenged people can benefit from his example.

    My prayers go out to his family and friends, it is truly a tragic loss.

  22. oni says:

    Too bad a young man with this ability has passed. He could have taught so many more people the capability to overcome things we often take for granted. God bless you Ben and your family.

  23. Aurafox says:

    It’s so sad that he survived such a disease for so long and was claimed by it..

  24. Lucy says:

    A lot of the people on here are awful, why are you trying to compete with this kid? He’s mind-blowing, as is his mum. All the best to his family, god bless. x

  25. Renoir says:

    This is terrible, He has this outstanding gift from god.. Like he can see without eyes. And than it seems he has cancer thats just unfair. RIP Ben

  26. Cassandra says:

    I am truly heartbroken by the news of Bens death. I am a mother of 6 and watched (with my children) his amazing abilities and attitude with wonder. All of the kids were inspired by this young man, as was I.

  27. The Atomic says:


  28. If-an'-Whendy says:

    I became convinced as a child that the world held no real wonder, the fairies in my backyard weren’t really there. And I wanted any such thing to be real and make this sterile world a more amazing and unexplainable place to be. as a child, I hadn’t yet been introduced to some of the true marvels that we are fortunate enough to live with these days. so many truly unique people are seen as something to be “fixed”.

    when i saw the video of Ben, my heart lept. simply incredible. at least, in this day and age we can understand the mechanics of how he sees…whereas in the past he might have been labeled as evil or some such nonsense.

    it is terrible that he wasn’t able to live out his life with his gift. and though i feel the slight tingle of the amazing touching my life again, the world will be just a little bit dimmer for his passing as it is whenever we lose the irreplaceable.

    and it makes me hate that “daredevil” movie with ben affleck even more.

  29. Brent says:

    i came across another site where an individual actually teaches echolocation to blind people. I hope one day all blind people have the opportunity to take such courses. They deserve the freedom it allows. Perhaps the child in this video will start teaching classes and expand his schools throughout the world. I’d love to see that kind of success for him.

  30. Brent says:

    I just read that Ben had passed. My condolences to his family.

  31. Robyn says:

    Ben is a winner simply by overcoming the adversities that life lumbered him with. He went on despite his blindness. Many believe it was not possible….then what about Helen Keller? She was able to learn to communicate effectively despite being blind and deaf and went on to lead an inspiring life.

    Ask yourself this question…. how do you find your way around in the dark in the middle of the night? You learn to adapt to the conditions, you memorise in your mind.

    Well done Ben, it is the world’s loss that you are no longer with us but I know your family take comfort in knowing that you are in a far better place.

  32. Lindsay says:

    I remember seeing him on tv a while ago. I had no idea he had passed away! It’s sad that he had such a short life when he was obviously an incredible and unique person.

  33. Blackwing Rose says:

    The strength of Ben and is mother is truly amazing, and I think is a miracle that surpasses the echolocation talents he developed. It is truly heartbreaking that a boy with such a great attitude and character had died to very young.

    Excuse me while I go wipe my eyes.

  34. Ashlynn says:

    i saw him on tv a few years ago, i thought it was really cool
    so sad that he died ='(

  35. Mary says:

    Incredible! I know that blind people develop a heightened sense of hearing and smell to know their environment, but Ben was truly remarkable. RIP Ben

  36. RunBay says:

    Poor guy! Had a lot of problems because of that cancer. Took hes eyes and him self 🙁

  37. Desmond T. Destiny says:

    I’m disappointed the world is no longer graced with such a strong willed human. He should be remembered with respect and honor for his abilities not pity and empathy for his disabilities.

  38. GLOW says:


  39. Yolanda says:

    That was truly amazing, that he managed to learn himself that. A very remarkable, strong-willed human being. The world is lesser for his loss.

  40. What Ben put in front of our eyes is that we all have a powerful tool which we use unconsciously. When you try to feel echolocation in your everyday life, you will be amazed of the results. It’s so evident, that you wonder how our abstract-prone society had denied our more basic sensorial tools. “The body was sin”. The classrooms are “deprivated-sensorial-spaces”. Take the best of 21 century Neurosciences: Abduction, Mirror Neurons, Echolocation, Adult Neural reproduction. They will help you in your own process of sensorial re-empowerment. Thanks Ben!

  41. LAT says:

    As one person put it, it’s amazing how many are threatened by this kid and his amazing ability. God bless you Ben, you truly were incredible. I hope God allows you to see all you could ever dream of in heaven.

  42. bong says:

    This kid is amazing, he is almost like the comic superhero Daredevil.
    It’s not just his ears but his mind.
    To be able to differentiate the ranges of sound and associate this to objects in an environment and give them a relative spatial position to where he is requires
    a lot of mental ability.
    He could’ve grownup and and made a career teaching other people without sight this ability.
    Im really saddened that he passed away, the world is so much less without him.

  43. Aquanetta says:

    My name is Aquanetta and I am the mother of Ben Alonzo Underwood. I know his abilities to most of us were completely amazing or unbelievable, however, if you knew Ben you would know that what Ben was able to do was supernatural. What Ben did for our human understanding was call echolocation. What you all don’t know about Ben is that he would meditate on Jesus Christ and he said, “Mom when my spirit is intuned I can see” Ben could describe people, things, and much much more. Ben is a true child of the King and he had to go home. I thank God for all of those who love Ben and were touched by his life. I even thank God for those who were threatened by Ben and pray that if they received anything from Ben’s example just know that there are absolutely no impossiblities. People get ready, Ben is not done I am writing a book and screenplay for a feature film of the true life of Ben Underwood. May God Bless all of his creation.

  44. lisa says:

    I am truely touched and inspired by the life of Ben Underwood. I am very glad his mother will write a book about Ben’s life so I can share it with my children. I believe our children need to know anything is possible so they can continue to accomplish their dreams. And Ms. Aquanetta, I strongly believe Ben was used by God, to show the sighted population that Jesus is real.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Truely amazing.

  46. DaziRazi says:

    He sounds like he was an amazing young boy

  47. Ben was my inspiration for creating my blog on the exploration, speculation and revelations on echolocation by a seeing person.
    I’ve been documenting my learning process and my study of echolocation for several years. I can’t wait to see the book and screenplay you are developing Aquanetta. Thank you.

  48. Amazed says:

    Oh my gosh.

    He’s like Toph (from A:TLA) then! OoO A real-life Toph! EPIC!

  49. Echolocation is a truly amazing skill and it is far more accessible than people think. I’m doing the best I can do conduct research and learn echolocation in order to help others, both seeing and blind to utilize this skill.
    It’s a profound ability of our kind and as a lifelong martial artist, I am committed to understanding all that mankind can do. I hope to help in making echolocation more accessible to everyone and will soon be publishing a training kit to teach echolocation in a simple, comprehensive package. Check out my blog to learn more about this project.

    1. J Tithonus Pednaud says:

      I agree, it is a remarkable skill.

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