RESEARCH from a Hampshire university has revealed that blind and visually impaired people have the potential to use similar hearing techniques to that of dolphins, pictured, and bats.

The study carried out by the University of Southampton Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) showed that those who are either blind or visually impaired could possibly use echolocation to determine the location of an object and help with spatial awareness and navigation.

A series of experiments using both sighted and blind human listeners were carried out that revealed that both sighted and blind people with good hearing, showed the potential to use the echoes to find where objects are.

Leading the study Dr Daniel Rowan, lecturer in audiology in ISVR, said: “We wanted to determine unambiguously whether blind people, and perhaps even sighted people, can use echoes from an object to determine roughly where the object is located.

“Some people are better at this than others, and being blind doesn’t automatically confer good echolocation ability. Nevertheless, ability probably gets even better with extensive experience and feedback.”