Julee-Anne Bell

Julee-anne is a wife, mother of two boys, and runs her own business from her home in Australia as a vocal instructor. She is also a degreed choir director, one of very few blind people in our experience to maintain such a career. However, before our training, she was simply unable to leave her home and travel most places without someone to guide her.

 After stumbling across our work in the Ben Underwood Documentary she contacted us, because she wanted more. She wanted to be able to go where she wanted, when she wanted. While she more than held her own as a wife and mother, she wanted to be able to support her family even more by helping to run errands, getting herself places without need for her husband or sons to accompany her, or just get down to her favorite coffee shop without having to arrange with friends. She also felt that being able to conduct herself around her work place and on stage would give greater dignity and poise to her role as choir director and stage musician. After a week of training, all of these things came true for Julee-anne. Here is her story, as told through various email exchanges and an an NPR radio broadcast:

At 12/9/2010, Julee-anne wrote:

Hi Daniel,

I’ve just seen the program you did with Ben Underwood relating to seeing with sound and I think it might have changed my life.

My name is Julee-anne and I’m a 37 year old blind woman. I was born with Lebers Congenital Amaurosis and I’ve never had any vision or light perception. I’m fairly unremarkable in the way I live my life. I run my own business and I have a husband and 2 great children but I’m limited in my ability to travel by my fear of danger and getting lost.

Watching you work with Ben has made me believe that there might be hope for me to expand my horizons. I’m a singer and singing teacher by trade and I know that I use my hearing well. Like most blind people, I use echo location to a certain degree but nothing like I saw with Ben or you and your team. I used to hate my cane, the way Ben did, but as an adult, I now see it as a useful tool. However, I know I could do more if I had more confidence in myself.

I find standard mobility techniques too narrow as the instructors tend to tell you what they as sighted people think you need to know. While I’ve always had reservations about working with a blind instructor, I now see the benefits of this.

I’ve rambled on a bit, but my basic question is, do you or your team ever come to Australia? Is there a way for me to come and work with you. Not that I have anything like the money to do it but It’s worth finding out.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Julee-anne Bell.


From: Daniel Kish, Thu, 09 Dec 2010


Hi Julee-anne,


Thank you so much for your soulful inquiry.


First of all, I'd like to say that, from the way you describe yourself, I do not get the impression that the way you live your life is "fairly unremarkable." While one might argue that your travel skills specifically may be fairly unremarkable, the fact that you run your own business, manage your own home, maintain a marriage, and raise two children represents the epitome of life and livelihood, which I for one find admirable. I'm also very appreciative of what you have to say about standard mobility approaches, which of course we are working to change.


We do travel to different parts of the world to work with organizations, blindness professionals, and blind people and families. ...

In the mean time, I'm happy to dialog with you on what you might do to ease your anxieties and challenge your own limits.

Hope we can work something out, and good luck.





From: Daniel Kish <daniel-kish@worldaccessfortheblind.org>, Monday, 13 December 2010


Hi Julee-anne,


It was good talking to you. It is nice to talk with someone who is insightful, enthusiastic, and wants to learn.


I mentioned visualizing what you currently can't imagine. Try imagining.


Also, you may try gradually going outside your comfort zone, as far as is comfortable before becoming unbearably uncomfortable. You can do this yourself. For example, taking yourself for a walk in your neighborhood, or around the school you are so comfortable with. You can bring your cell phone and call someone if you really feel out done, but just try going up and down the foot path, or around the block. Make sure you know which house is yours by it's distinctive features. If you have an iPhone, try downloading some of the GPS applications. Sometimes, we can expand our comfort zone by gradually extended the limits. This can take off exponentially for some people.


These are just some really quick ideas before even getting into the FlashSonar.


Hope I can be of help. [I'll get back to you with more detailed recommendations.]


All the best,



At 12/14/2010, Julee-anne wrote:

Julee-anne: Just reading your document now. It's fascinating. It answers a lot of questions but poses more. It's also just a little disheartening. I guess that in some secret or maybe not so secret part of myself, I consider myself to have achieved a lot in my life and made a difference in the lives of a significant number of people. Reading your background summary makes me realise how much I have not done.


Daniel: I am pleased and feel fortunate to have come into the role I have in life, although I am very cognizant that I have so far yet to go. Having said that, the grass always remains greener on the other side of that fence, doesn't it. I have chosen to dominate my life by a professional career, but I have long wanted to adopt a child, and have my own small family. I still have aspirations to adopt some day, but my life is such that this is quite impractical. It is one of my few regrets in life, but it is a stinging one. Bless you and your family. [I also have long desired to become an accomplished musician and singer as you have, but life took a different turn.]


Julee-anne: Anyway, I'm ready to start walking down my street independently but I have some concerns. I'm just going to lay them out no matter how silly they sound.


Daniel: I've heard it all. Nothing sounds silly.


Julee-anne: 1 We have no footpaths, I think you might call them sidewalks. The ground is uneven and there are trees and bushes everywhere.


Daniel: Sounds lovely. Ideally, I would need to have a look at your neighborhood. The typical manner of travel in such a situation would not be to off road it, but to walk along the margin of the road. You use your cane to maintain contact with the edge of the road. This generally keeps you well outside the flow of traffic, but it sounds like you live in a low traffic area.


Julee-anne: I use an ultra cane which would normally make me feel safe but it's broken so I've only got a standard cane. I'm pretty scared of running straight into the trees.


Daniel: I normally would recommend against the ultracane. I'm not recommending against it for you without knowing you. But, the ultracane is heavy and bulky, and does not allow the cane to be used as the delicate perceptual instrument it is intended to be. At best, one generally finds themselves hamhandedly bashing it about. I like to think of the cane as a delicate antenna. As far as running straight into the trees, I suspect you will not be walking fast enough at this point for that to matter. Hopefully,by the time you are, you will have learned to detect the trees. Probably this will be less of a concern if you are able to stay along the margin of the road.


Julee-anne: 2 I'm concerned about how I might look. The people in my neighbourhood aren't used to seeing me out and about on my own. What will they think? What will they say?


Daniel: They'll think all kinds of nonsense, and they'll say a bunch of stuff. You are simply in a position to re-educate people as to who you are becoming. Anyway, you are a poised person. You can manage this just as you manage any social situation. Just tell them you're stretching your wings, or learning to open your eyes, or something.


Julee-anne: If you decide after this I'm a lost cause, I'll understand.


Daniel: Here's what you do. One day, just go out, and walk along the road as I indicated only from your driveway to the next driveway. Then, turn around and come back, and call it a day. If you want, later on, go the other way to the other driveway. Next day, go one driveway further in either direction. When you do this, you go into it with the attitude that whatever happens, it's ok. It's all part of the adventure. I made sure I would have the attitude during my first few hikes. You're not doing this to accomplish anything but to learn. Even if you get all turned around and someone has to come to your rescue, you take a deep breath, and count what you've learned. There's always something. It may sound lame, but think of yourself as a famous explorer. Move into that mentality, and go with it. Hope this helps.


At 12/15/2010, Julee-anne wrote:

Hi Daniel,

... Well, I just got up and went. I live one house from the corner so I went that way first. This is the way to the bus stop and because I’ve walked it so many times with the kids, it was really fine. I was probably moving quite slowly and as you predicted I didn’t hit anything. This was partly due to my speed but partly due to the fact that my cane technique is really quite good. When I reached the corner I turned around and came back, located my driveway and kept going. I forgot to keep a check on the driveways but I think I went about 5 houses. I started to feel a little anxious as I got into more unfamiliar territory but it wasn’t an unmanageable anxiety. I discovered that people need to cut their grass and that trees tend to grow along the edge of the path so you can either walk in the gutter or there’s often a way around each tree. Someone said "Good morning", to which I responded in kind but other than that no-one said anything. I know there were people around but no-one felt the need to make a comment. I’m pretty pleased with myself ...

Thanks so much,



From: Daniel Kish

Subject: Re: I Did IT!!!


Hi Julee-anne,


Extraordinary! This is really terrific. Well Done. I love it. I'm so glad to hear it went so well. ...


Now, I suggest you set some regular time aside to do this sort of thing, extending your limits each time. Take comfort in the reality that it will not always go smoothly. As often as I do things, sometimes even simple things hang me up, things you'd think after all this time and experience would never happen, like ploughing into that guywire with Ben Underwood for all the world to see


I was recently at a friend's house. Her son and his friends were playing in his bedroom. They invited me in; I was visiting her for the first time, and had not been in the boy's bedroom before, not that it was any big deal. After a while, I laid my cane aside, and we got to roughhousing. Then, dinner time or something. So, I reached over to pick up my cane from where I'd recalled I'd left it. It wasn't there. I hesitated a moment perplexed. One of the boys, a really nice chap about 9 years old, said, "oh, it's over here," and handed it to me. I'm thinking "what?" because there's no way it should be over there. Then, when I got up to leave the room, I found myself somehow completely turned around. The boy's now grabbing me by the hand and pulling me to the door "It's this way. Over here." I'm a guy who can travel comfortably in mountains and canyons spanning hundreds and thousands of acres in any direction, and here I suddenly couldn't find my way out of a 12 by 12 room. Of course, I'd have figured it out in another heart beat, but there was no question there for a minute that I was totally and truly turned around in an environment that I should be able to navigate in my sleep. The only thing one can do is just laugh it off

 , which believe me, I did. You'll do the same.



From: "Julee-anne Bell", Sat, 18 Feb 2012

Subject: Testimonial


 For the past few years, I’ve had what many people considered to be a big dream. It was really a simple dream, I thought. I wanted to get on a bus, run some errands and treat myself to lunch without help from anyone else. This dream is now a reality thanks to Daniel Kish.

 In the course of a week, Daniel helped me to make my simple dream come true.

 After a year of fund raising and explaining the methods employed by the team at World Access for the Blind, I was able to get Daniel out to Australia. He finally arrived in Brisbane on 13 January 2012.

 We began work immediately and I never looked back. With a new full length cane, my new found echo location skills and a great deal of anxiety, we embarked on finding our way down my street, around my block, around the next block, to the bus stop, around my local shops and around other places in my area.

 Daniel has given me the skills I need to orient myself to pretty much any unfamiliar space I choose to visit. He has also greatly decreased my anxiety surrounding travel by increasing my own self-belief and helping me to be conscious of the power I have over my own movement and the way in which I interact with the environment.

 I am now able to be more useful to my family and engage more fully in activities I used to rely on sighted assistance to complete. I will always be grateful to Daniel for giving me my freedom. It has been, quite simply, life altering.

 Julee-anne Bell.


Julee-anne was so impressed by our work with her and others in her community, that she single-handedly booked a month's worth of engagements around her local community and throughout Australia three years in a row. Julee-anne has since made trips throughout Australia on her own, and has even traveled to the U.S. without accompanyment. Here is a link to a news program that she arranged for us in her local community:

The remarkable 'bat man'

Today Tonight TV 7 Australia - December, 2013
Adam Marshall ,

"Daniel Kish has been blind since birth but uses a constant clicking sound to picture his surroundings. ... Now he has developed it into an amazing world first training technique to help others like him. … Daniel gave Today Tonight an amazing demonstration: riding his bike unassisted for 30 minutes before sketching out an unfamiliar area we took him to, reproducing it [by sketching it on paper] almost entirely accurately. … he calls it his flash sonar and describes it as ‘a bat-like sense’. It is a form of echolocation. He effectively sees with his ears and that is why he has been labelled as ‘bat man’."

Julee-anne did such an effective job of managing the many engagements she set up for us throughout Australia that we happily hired her to become our Administrative Manager to manage all the logistics surrounding all our engagements throughout the world. She has also gone on to form World Access for the Blind - Australia, a sister company with a mission to bring our liberating approach to the blind throughout Australia, for which she serves as Managing Director with our blessings and full support.

BONUS: Falling Off A Cliff

NPR: Morning Addition - January 26, 2015

"We didn't have enough room in our Batman show for this lovely story about Julee-anne Bell, one of the many people who have learned Daniel Kish's echolocation technique. Enjoy!" Includes interviews with Daniel, and Julee-anne's husband and one of her sons.