Cathy's Detailed Account

From: Cathy Egan, Mon, 4 Mar 2013

 Hi Daniel, my name is Cathy, I live in Sydney Australia. I'm presently 50 years of age.  I am just being introduced to your system of Echolocation, via, my mobility Instructor, Marta Fonmudeh.

Marta is from Vision Australia. She, just so happens to be, one of the most positive mentors anyone could be privilege to have. Honestly Daniel, I'm very lucky to come across such a positive professional and indeed someone who looks beyond mainstream,and often goes the extra miles for her clients.

Daniel, I want to tell you, how amazed and blown away I feel about this system, if that's okay?

Gee, where do I begin? When I first heard about this way of mobility and that was only last year, I was amazed and indeed intrigue. However, Daniel, I thought, it was only for very, very gifted people, truly I did. I don't mean that rudely. However I thought it was out of the realms  of possibility, for people like me, to ever learn this fantastic but most logical and natural ability.

Daniel, I have had low vision all my life. I have also had all types of variability on my vision - ranging from, using no technical assistance what so ever, not even, large print    - through to needing to use a long cane and at one point in my life I had, over a seven year period a Guide dog.
 Daniel, this was all due to congenital cataract and glaucoma. I have had more than 20 operations, some very successful and others not so great. I have a Meltinoes  implant in my left eye since  age 21 and my right eye was enucleated at age 27. I also get chronic cluster migraine, which does interfere with my vision at times. Since my enucleation, I  get phantom vision in the form of flashing bright lights on my right side. I do have medication to reduced the flashing  lights, that does help a bit. However, the lights seem to get worse at the beginning and during a migraine. Some of the migraines can last up to 15 days at a time.

Daniel, up until approximately 6 months ago, I was working, similar to a nurse assistant,  on a very busy, Neurology ward.
 Daniel, last year, my vision started to do some very strange things, with glare and if I was honest with myself it slowly, started to become obvious to me, that things  were changing again.
 At this point, I was walking without any mobility equipment what so ever. The only assistants I needed was glasses, I didn't even require a handheld lens etc.
 Never the less, outside my mobility was getting more and more difficult due to the glare. The issue was, as I had no longer required a guide dog for many, many years and I hadn't  used a cane for  even more years, I was a bit lost, to say the least.  I contacted Guide dogs Australia and organise to have a  brush up course on cane mobility.

Daniel I had informed work  out of courtesy that things were changing, ever so slowly. However, glare  outside was my issue.  My medical team was happy to support me in the workplace and included passing me on safety at that time.

To cut a very, long, story, short my vision  change, turned into a discrimination issue with in the workplace. Vision Australia helped me fight that battle and indeed I was successful.
 Unfortunately even though I maintained my job and Vision Australia had done independent assessments on my ability with in the workplace. The pressure, placed on me was indescribable. Consequently in November last year I terminated my position.

Daniel, since last year, my vision has been on a decline. As Vision Australia had assisted me  with my workplace assessments I  come across Marta and some how I felt we just clicked. I changed my mobility training across to Vision Australia and Marta  and I have been working together ever since.

Daniel, I  have found out that the vision that I have lost recently is now permanent . ... I must admit, it's kind of hard to except that.
 Marta, understood that and has been fantastic about all of my situation.

Daniel it was about that time when Marta let me know about yourself and echolocation.
 Wow! Daniel, I immediately wanted to know more. I thought in time becoming almost totally blind I would  need to become very dependent on others. How wrong was I ? I mean, I think, I got that concept from many years ago, having a Guide dog, when I was very, very immature and certainly not confident at all and indeed not very independent.

Daniel, echolocation to me  means - 2 things 1.HOPE and 2. FILLING IN THE PICTURE. It will hopefully allow me to use my cane,  pick up information tactilely and audibly, through my cane as well as listening to a sightseeing experience of my environment, whilst I move through, my own environment. In other words I will be able to see with my ears. I think I'm very excited about this because, I don't have to miss out on any information of my environment unless I choose to.
 I know at this point I'm very much a beginner, pretty much kindergarten level.
 However Daniel I want to  thank you for everything you are doing. Indeed you are changing people's lives. You are changing my life with all your information and this amazing technique. Honestly Daniel you and your team inspire me greatly.

One of the issues that I had with going back onto the use of a cane  was I didn't like the canes we have in Australia. Marta tried approximately 6 canes that she had obtained from overseas. Finally she found one on the Internet from America. Daniel it's fantastic. It's a long white  cane, lightweight, folds up into seven and best of all, it has a mettle  glide tip. I think having a mettle  glide tip makes it sound so much clear to hear and I can feel different surfaces much easier.

In fact Daniel, I wanted to make my cane usage a positive experience.  Marta suggested that I name it and jokingly, she suggested I name it Daniel as I'm so excited about echolocation.
As I wanted all my mobility experiences to be positive, that is cane useage  and echolocation, I decided to call my new cane "DANIEL". Yes you herd it correctly, after yourself of course. Gosh! I Do hope you don't mind. I couldn't think of anybody more positive and inspiring than yourself.
Each time, I use my cane it reminds me that I don't need to lose anything. All I need to do is see with my ears and remember the only limits  that I have is the limits that I place on myself.

Daniel I know you travel the world and you must be a very, very busy person to say the least. However I do hope somewhere along the line we may cross paths. I believe you have just been to Australia. I hope sometime in the future Daniel you may come to Sydney. If you ever do, come to Sydney  I would be most interested and I would love to have some lessons with you. I also know you would be most welcome by  many people.

Daniel, you and your team are amazing people. You do amazing things. People like me are really, really grateful. Honestly, thank you so much. All the very best.

Take care,

From: Marta Fonmudeh

Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2013
Subject: "hooked on"

Hello Daniel,

I thought I would drop you a line just to let you know how meeting you early last year in Sydney [Renwick Center,2012] has hooked many O&M instructors and their clients to new way of thinking and shift towards perceptual mobility principles.

Many client also embraced the technique and are putting efforts to practice flash sonar skills.

... I am attaching a story of [Cathy, name disguised as Annie] and her journey with flash sonar.

Hope to hear from you soon.
Kind Regards
Marta Fonmudeh M.Ed (Special Ed. - Vision)

Echolocation: A Case Study by Guest Blogger Marta Fonmudeh, Vision Australia

VisionAware - July 1, 2013

A case study of the application of our Perceptual Mobility approach, and what Marta and Cathy (code named Annie) have to say.

From: Cathy Egan, Tue, 14 Jan 2014

Hi Daniel, first of all I'd like to thank you very  much  for giving me the opportunity to learn from you. Daniel I'm so excited, that you're coming to Sydney, to teach me, as I truly believe, very strongly, in your program mainly  because to me Daniel,your program, is my ticket to freedom, if you know what I mean.
 Julee-anne, [Managing Director of World Access for the Blind - Australia] has been outstanding in organising phone calls and schedules etc. I have had nothing but kindness, Friendliness and most of all professionalism from your organisation, it's  been fantastic to say the least.
Daniel, as you know, Julee-anne, has organised for you to stay with Myself, ... I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you. ...

Like I said before Daniel, I am so looking forward to your visit and I feel that I will learn heaps
So thank you very much for giving  me this opportunity to learn and to gain invaluable skills. All the very best. Take care, looking forward to catching up with you soon. Bye for now, Cathy

From: Cathy Egan, Tue, 28 Jan 2014

Hi Daniel, wow! that was the most amazing experience I have ever had thank you so very, very much. I am still trying to get my head around everything that we did and all the things that I was able to achieve. It was so wonderful first and foremost to meet you let alone all the things we did. I have already let Marta know that I'm sure I don't have boundaries any more. I think both you and Marta blew me away with such an amazing support guidance and at all times professionalism. However at the same time being incredibly challenging at times and definitely pushing me beyond my own boundaries.
Daniel you are indeed an amazing genius. All the things that you do and the people that  you help, it's just incredible to say the least.
Like I said to you at the station Daniel I honestly don't think thank you is really expressing my full gratitude for everything that you have done for me.
What I do know Daniel is that you have given me amazing tools that I will take further by doing my homework on a regular basis. Your visit to me is indeed a life changing event. I must admit I feel a lot stronger now  ready  to face new challenges.
Daniel, thank you so much for all your time and effort with me. I am truly so grateful. I wish you all the very best and I hope we can keep in touch. Take care bye for now Cathy :)

From: Cathy Egan, Mon, 17 Feb 2014

Hi Daniel, it's Cathy Egan, I  just wanted to touch base with you, if that's  okay.
I have just come back from Melbourne and had another mobility lesson with Penny, it was terrific. Penny, let me know that she noticed quite a significant change in my mobility. I seamed to have a  lot more smoothness and my posture was  better, oh and I seamed to be  more confident looking. I must admit it was really nice feedback.

What I do know Daniel, is for some reason, everything is coming together and  flash sonar is becoming a lot easier. I absolutely use it everywhere.
Like I said to you before Daniel, the time I spent with you and the tools you left with me was and is invaluable to me.

I can now locate pols and it is getting easier. The soft click that you showed me has helped tremendously. I can really home into things with the soft  click, it's great.
 I'm still working on my long distance with my clapping. However that's definitely a work in progress mainly because I need to work on my clap. however, it's getting easier like you said it would.

... I did write a story from a students perspective. Daniel it is my very first story really apart from a long email I had sent you as introduction and a thank you to you. ... Julee-anne contacted me two nights ago and asked me if she could put it on the website as is. I thought if it could help somebody or inform somebody of echolocation and Flash sonar from a students perspective then of course she could have it for the website. I must admit I felt quite shocked that she asked me.

Well Daniel, thank you for everything. I've taken far too much of your time.

all the best Cathy :)

A true and accurate expression of being a student of echo location and flash sonar.

Cathy Egan - February, 2014

Cathy elaborates on the course of her FlashSonar training, and her experiences. "echo location has and is having a profound positive effect on me and for that I'm extremely grateful particularly to everyone that has introduced me to this amazing form of mobility."

From: Marta Fonmudeh , Fri, 14 Feb 2014

Dear Daniel,
Sorry for very delayed THANK YOU. It has been an absolute pleasure to join you in your adventures with Cathy. She has made a tremendous progress over the past year and it keep coming with more and bigger changes as we go ahead. I’m sure you have had a detailed report from Cathy following your sessions. 

Being able to see what you do when you do it has brought realisation of how important it is to involve local O&Ms when you’re working with clients in various locations. Close relationships will ensure that your mission is carried forward and you might find more feedback coming back to you and other WAFTB [Perceptual Navigation] coaches.
I am looking forward to liaising with you on other subjects we have talked about, being contacts in Poland and Cameroon.
Kind Regards
Marta Fonmudeh M.Ed (Special Ed. - Vision)
Senior Orientation and Mobility Specialist
Independent  Living Services/ SEDOM
Vision Australia

From: Cathy Egan, Sun, 27 Jul 2014

Hello Daniel,

... let me tell you where I'm up to, if you have time? First of all I am absolutely fine, in fact I'm doing incredibly well thank you for asking.
 In June Daniel, I had my wonderful trip to Hawaii with Emily, my youngest sister and Katie. ... I had a marvellous time and special moments with my sister that's for sure.
When I was in Hawaii Daniel-everybody to me was absolutely outstandingly helpful and customer service was amazing. Americans sure know how to make you feel welcome, in fact I loved Hawaii.
I used my National Federation of the Blind cane with the metal glide  tip most of the time, except for the day that I went to the live volcano. On that day I simply used the light weight Australian cane with extra length  and a pear tip.
Unfortunately Daniel, the Hawaiians had stopped the climb up to the volcano a couple of years prior, due to people being a bit silly. However our tour  took us to the top of the volcano and we were able to experience the volcano and go into a volcano museum, which had many things that were tactile for us. After that we then went to an area where we could experience the steam coming from the volcano, that was kind of mind blowing, you could actually feel it and definitely hear the sound, a very special moment.
The next part of the volcano tour was going through a lava tube.
 Daniel this was really exciting! Emily of course guided us through  a tropical forest, believe it or not. At no time did I use cited guide  I just listen to were  Emily was and her direction guide. Downstairs and using a rocky path. Finally we got tube, Daniel, it was  a cave, a tube  shaped cave, which is naturally formed from a volcano.
When I ventured into the cave it was fantastic! We could feel the sizes  of the Cave and the roof was so low we had to bend down at times, we could feel the roof, that was cool. Daniel it was amazing, to feel the stalactites and the stalagmites, I think that's what there called? The walls and the roof were very mois, It was awesome going through.
I also took the time to echo through it, so I could get a sense of how big it was and just what shape it took. The weird thing Daniel was believe it or not there were ferns growing in the actual larva tube, apparently according to Emily, where there didn't seem to be any light, how about that!
I have to say I certainly didn't feel like I was missing out on anything not being able to actually see things.
My vision is very very, very low now and in Hawaii because of the tropical glare all I could see was white. So my flash sonar was absolutely fantastic to use and because I wasn't familiar with my surroundings at all I used it hundred percent. Oh boy did it certainly fill in the pictures though.
My other outstanding things, that I was able to achieve whilst in Hawaii was swimming with a dolphin, yes I did. We went to a sea World place and was able to do a lot of touch and feel different creatures such as turtles and certain fish oh and of course went into a cage with a whole stack of parrots and fed them, that was such fun.
When it came time to swim with the Dolphin, I was lucky enough to be in a group with the Dolphin, believe it or not that had Cataracs in one eye and  low vision in the other she was apparently using echolocation to get around.
I was able to feel the top of the Dolphin, along with her fantastic tail. Then the highlight was when I was able to position myself so I could kiss her and she then kissed me on the cheek