Ben Underwood, the magical blind boy who could see everything
Benjamin Underwood was a wonder boy, who loved to skate, ride his bicycle and play football, basketball and video games. The 16-year-old boy from California was just like any other kids of his age. But what made Underwood remarkable and different from others was his ability to master these activities despite the fact that he was blind. Both the eyes of Ben Underwood were removed after being diagnosed with retinal cancer, when he was only three years old. But to everyone’s surprise, he seemed completely unfazed by his lack of sight, defying common stereotypes about blindness as a disability.
So how Ben Underwood did it? The answer is echolocation, the sonar navigation technique used by bats, dolphins, several other mammals and by some birds. Human echolocation is an ability of humans to detect objects in their environment by sensing echoes from those objects. Ben could actually do almost everything – skate, cycle, play basketball and even played video games.Ben Underwood taught himself echolocation at the age of five. He was able to detect the location of objects by making frequent clicking noises with his tongue. He was so good at that, that he could very easily distinguish between all things like cars, trucks, roads, houses etc. If he was taken to a new house, he could tell easily where the kitchen was or he would even tell that he could ‘see’ the staircase in the house. Those were even not enough, Ben was also able to perceive the distance to objects in his environment by how loud and faint the echo was.
Watch this video to check out how Ben Underwood made it possible.
The person who enabled him to develop this talent was his mother who always told him, “Your name is Benjamin Underwood and you can do anything”. Aquanetta Gordon never let her son to fell that he was blind. “I realised that if I gave in, he would too, I pledged I’d be strong for him”, she says. Ben’s mother shares the amazing story of Ben’s journey through a book named “Echoes of an Angel“.
Ben also had a special talent to read other people and immediately know if he was accepted or rejected by another person.
Ben Underwood was featured in several magazines and TV shows, including an appearance on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’, after his unique skill made the news. But unfortunately, this exceptional teenager died on January 19, 2009 from the same cancer that took his vision, when it spread to Ben’s brain and spine.
Image courtesy : amazingpeople.com