The Boy Who Sees Without Eyes

2007 ,    »  -   33 Comments
Ratings: 7.52/10 from 25 users.

The Boy Who Sees Without EyesBen Underwood lives with his family in the suburbs of Sacramento, California where he attends his local high school. Like any other 14-year-old boy, he loves to play with his friends and chat to girls his age, with whom he seems popular. He looks like any other boy, until he removes his $4,600, hand-crafted eyes. Ben is blind and, like other blind people, relies on some specialist equipment to survive. He uses talking computer software and a Braille machine to help with his homework.

Ben does not have a guide dog, uses no stick, and does not even use his hands to aid his mobility. Instead, he has developed something of a super sense: he is the only person in the world who navigates using clicks. As he walks, he makes a continuous clicking noise with his tongue. As these clicks echo around him, he is able to draw up a detailed mental plan of his surroundings and adjust his direction accordingly.

So accurate is his technique that he is even able to go rollerblading on the street, negotiating narrow gaps between parked cars that even sighted children might find challenging. In fact, Ben’s mother, Aquanetta, inds that her son is far more attentive to the dangers of the road than his friends, always the first to move onto the pavement when a car approaches.

Ben first noticed his talent at the age of seven, when at summer camp. While it began as just a habit, Ben explains, he soon realised that it had potential benefits for navigation. He began to practise every day and developed the system to the point it is at today. It is the fact that Ben is entirely self-taught that is perhaps most astonishing and has led people to use the term ‘genius’ when referring to the boy.

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33 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Tyler


  2. berklas
  3. berklas

    simply amazing...

  4. Charles
  5. Charles

    Truly marvelous.

  6. Charles
  7. Charles

    I just looked up Ben Underwood on-line and found out that the cancer that took his sight eventually claimed his life two years after this documentary. I am so sad for the family. I can't hold back the tears. What a remarkable loveable young man he was.

  8. Adrian
  9. Adrian

    Amazing ability and just as amazing display of will power and determination from both Ben and his family. It is sad to hear he has past away...

  10. Evan
  11. Evan

    Totally awesome! Not a tear-jerker, but very inspirational. And his family is amazing, I love his uncle. The way he laughs at around 30:30 is hilarious!

  12. carpenter
  13. carpenter

    This documentary lets you realize that your human abilities are unless

  14. Courtney
  15. Courtney

    I am sure I have seen this method described on another science-themed doc. It was part of an episodic series and it featured a man in his 30-40's. I wish I could remember what it was but the story was this man used clicks in the same way and could tell you whether or not he passed a mailbox or a parked car on the other side of the road. He was also trying to teach his methods to blind children if I remember correctly.

  16. angelusp
  17. angelusp

    Mothers are too good, I love my mom :)

  18. Olu
  19. Olu

    Rest in peace angel.

  20. batman
  21. batman

    this boy is half bat

  22. T-Dog
  23. T-Dog

    It seems all too often that the best of us live far too short while folks like me, with no real problems, complain and bitch year after year after year. Thanks for the reality check Ben.

  24. Jimmy
  25. Jimmy

    Hi he is incredible, but I just wanted to note a typo, it is $46,000 dollar eyes not $4,600

  26. johannesfaust
  27. johannesfaust

    the incredible human potencial in action,

    thanks for posting it Vlatko, extremely interesting

  28. Maria
  29. Maria



  30. Jose
  31. Jose

    This is a must see

  32. Rachel
  33. Rachel

    Totally amazing!Its definitely one of the best documentaries i've seen in a while.

  34. Dodgy
  35. Dodgy

    This kid was freakin' awesome!
    Saw this documentary before and when I saw it here I watched it again because it's that inspiring :D
    His story makes me appreciate what I have with sight. Who will admit they tried some clicking around the house to see if they were a natural hehe, I did but I'm not too good so far.

    If I ever lose my sight I'm not going to look at a cane as a detriment, just another tool - like eyes themselves and I'll be cracking shins everywhere to get what I need to do done. Oops, sorry will be my mantra if I can get where I need to be. I'm clumsy enough WITH eyes already that no one would be particularly surprised :P

  36. Miguel
  37. Miguel

    Society teaches people to worry about obstacles or similar aflictions. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, teaches us that they are meant to exist for God to perform his miracles on us. It's just a matter of faith. Although, these words weren't highlighted so much (miracles and faith), they were mentioned and shouldn't be taken so lightly. God bless you all.

  38. Alisa
  39. Alisa

    That is so beautiful.

  40. rachelnico
  41. rachelnico

    $50,000 for eyes? That's expensive!
    Either way, this boy is very brave and sweet.

  42. rachelnico
  43. rachelnico

    Amazing how someone can adapt to the loss of a sense with overcompensating with another; ultimately to a greater degree than anyone could imagine.
    This boy was brave and smart and left this world way too early.

  44. J
  45. J

    Similar thing was shown on Stan Lee's super humans. I believe its what Courtney was talking about above.

    It is simply amazing the brain has the capacity to adapt as such.

  46. An_Island
  47. An_Island

    What a MOTHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thank you Aquinat (not sure spelling). You really deserve heaven.
    You inspired me.

  48. ANTNY
  49. ANTNY

    It is quite amazing what can be done when you forget about your limitations. I can see and have also developed this ability to navigate around my environment with my eyes closed in a similar manner.

  50. Guest
  51. Guest

    The biggest challenge in life is to climb over one's own ego and then the sky open for blind people AND...for all of us equally!

  52. ajmah
  53. ajmah

    Only person in the world?? Lots of blind people use a clicking noise method, either tongue or finger clicks to navigate their way around.

  54. Bill Norman
  55. Bill Norman

    This dude should teach other blind people to see like this! This could revolutionize technology

  56. Thomas N. Bolton
  57. Thomas N. Bolton

    Ben's cancer was in check until 2007, when he developed a tumor in his sinus cavity. Intensive treatment failed to knock down the disease.
    He passed away on January 19, 2009 at age of 16.

    In his final days, Ben enjoyed listening to gospel music and getting neck and back massages. He seemed more concerned about his mother's emotional state than his own pain, forgoing medications and assuring her that he was fine. "He motivated people who wanted to see again, wanted to live again," Aquanetta Gordon said. "Ben was blind, but he saw more than most."

  58. L0LAW0NKA
  59. L0LAW0NKA

    I'm sorry he died. If he had lived, he would have done something extraordinary, but I guess he was already amazing enough.

  60. Mike Keller
  61. Mike Keller

    unless... ???? Unless what

  62. Gurcharan Singh Khamba
  63. Gurcharan Singh Khamba


  64. Matx
  65. Matx

    wow dying of cancer...

    guess he didn't see that coming

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