ASSIGNMENT: THAILAND ECHOLOCATION
World Access for the Blind (WAFTB) was privileged to recently provide a special 11- day training course in FlashSonar™ Echolocation to student mobility coaches in Thailand.
The training is a joint effort by King Prajadhipok’s Institute (Thai monarch 1925 to 1935), the Foundation for the Blind in Thailand under the patronage of Her Majesty The Queen, and Good Intentions, a volunteer group.
We offer our heartfelt condolences to Her Majesty and members of the Thai Royal Family, and to the people of Thailand who are mourning the death on October 13th of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX) , one of the world’s longest-serving monarchs.
World Access for the Blind feels especially privileged to have honored the late His Majesty The King’s adage that “To help them [the blind] obtain skills to navigate more freely on their own is tantamount to enhancing their independence.”
WAFTB Perceptual Navigation Instructors Brian Bushway and Juan Ruiz were immediately impressed by everyone’s warm friendliness and enthusiasm to learn.
Soon after their arrival, it became evident that there were many opportunities to build new ‘pathways’ to independence, beginning with the introduction of the full-length canes from WAFTB. While some were hesitant at first, all the students eventually loved the extended perception the canes enabled.
ROYAL PATRONAGE: The Musical King
During the period of mourning for H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the Foundation for the Blind in Thailand under the Patronage of H.M. The Queen, is fondly remembering Their Majesties’ many visits to the Bangkok School For The Blind over the years.
The King himself had been blinded in one eye and paralyzed in half of his face because of a car accident in 1948 in Lausanne, Switzerland where he was studying.
Known as ‘the musical King’, the Foundation writes on its website: “His Majesty was particularly fond of blind singers and musicians, especially of the pianist Mr.Piya Kosinanont.
During one of His many visits to the Bangkok School for the Blind, His Majesty graciously asked the students what kind of musical instrument they would like to have. One asked readily : a saxophone!
His Majesty in person took care that the blind student got one and graciously even took the task to teach him how to play it by inviting that blind student together with two other friends, to take lessons at the Royal Residence three times a week.
His Majesty would enjoy jamming with the blind musicians and singers who frequently visited the Royal Residence. Mr.Wimon Ong-amporn, one of the lucky students of those times, remembers how His Majesty would lead them to play in the Dixie Land jazz style and teach them proper lip techniques.
His Majesty graciously composed the song : Yim Su as an encouragement to the blind. His Majesty in person graciously taught the lyrics and the tone to the lead-singer of the chorus of the Bangkok School for the Blind.
The song “Yim Su” was first sung at the Charity Ball that the Foundation for the Blind organized in 1952.The Bangkok School for the Blind adopted the song “Yim Su” as the hymn of the school.” Read more about The King.
PROJECT FLASHSONAR™ ECHOLOCATION
In late September, celebrity entrepreneurs behind the Good Intentions Foundation in Thailand organized the ‘See The World Charity Event’ at the Sofitel So Bangkok Hotel to raise money to bring training in FlashSonar™ Echolocation to Bangkok.
As The Nation Newspaper/Website reported: “The two experts booked to lead the course are from World Access for the Blind, a US-based international non-profit, non-governmental and educational organisation that aids in the physical, mental and personal development of people with all forms of blindness.
It also raises public awareness about the strengths and capabilities of blind people.” Those two experts are WAFTB Perceptual Navigation Instructors Brian Bushway and Juan Ruiz.
The training is a joint effort by King Prajadhipok’s Institute (Thai monarch 1925 to 1935), the Foundation for the Blind in Thailand under the Patronage of H.M. The Queen, and the Good Intentions Foundation, a volunteer group. Khan Prachuabmoh, Chairman of the Foundation for the Blind in Thailand, said the training was in line with the late King’s advice.
As training began, outfitting the coaching students with full-length canes was the first step toward teaching them independent navigation, rather than walking in the linked-arm ‘elephant formation’. The euphoric feeling of what WAFTB calls ‘Perceptual Freedom’ began to slowly take shape among the students as they challenged their traditional teachings.
WATCHING PERCEPTUAL FREEDOM SPREAD IN THAILAND
As you may have noticed from many of the photographs, the student coaches from the Foundation For The Blind In Thailand under the Patronage of Her Majesty The Queen, have been conditioned to walking in a row, each one behind the other.
Once Brian and Juan introduced them to the full-length canes, along with the FlashSonar™ clicks, their world lit up before them and they were encouraged to move independently of one another. The echoes from the clicks have been scientifically proven to light-up the brain’s Visual Cortex with acoustic imaging.
As the group walked to a local market, the National Science Center and an ancient Temple, their skills began to improve and they experienced an emerging level of self-directed independence they had never known before. All of them found their own unique ways to test out the combination of new skills they were learning.
One student was hesitant to use the full-length cane, but after trying it and objectively comparing the results to his previous shorter cane, he was convinced of the benefits the extended range provided.
Enjoy the training travelogue of some of the best that Thailand has to offer courtesy of the wonderful photography of Taksa Aura-ek, Warawat Bibb Sabhavasu, Taya Kitiyakara and the work of others that we’re grateful to showcase.
ฉันหวังว่าจะได้พบคุณอีกเร็ว ๆ นี้
SEE YOU AGAIN SOON
Perceptual Navigation Instructors Brian Bushway and Juan Ruiz have had a busy 11 days, meeting many new friends, teaching them to ‘see with sound’ and be more self-directed in their journey to Perceptual Freedom.
They’re grateful for the warmth and friendliness of the Thai people, as well as for the many hospitalities and aspects of Thai culture shared with them.
WAFTB is grateful for the opportunity to work with the co-ordinating organizations and looks forward to returning to extend the experience to more blind persons in Thailand. We send everyone involved with the project a big ‘Thank You’ and our very Best Wishes.
BE THE SPARK THAT LIGHTS-UP MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR BLIND PERSONS TO SEE WITH SOUND
The echoes from our FlashSonar™ echolocation clicks act like sparks lighting up the brain’s Visual Cortex with acoustic imaging.
Global media coverage of our work has led to a waiting list of many blind people who want to learn our advanced mobility techniques, and many blind and sighted people who want to train with us to become Perceptual Navigation Instructors.
Let your donation be the spark of opportunity that helps to create jobs right here in the USA and gives blind people the chance to light-up their world by learning to
SEE WITH SOUND.