Teaching echolocation skills: O&M activities

Pixar's Finding Dory is teaching an orientation and mobility skill!

Pixar’s popular movie, Finding Dory, has lovable characters that include Destiny, a whale shark who has a visual impairment and Bailey, a beluga whale who thinks that there is something wrong with his sonar (echolocation) due to a head injury. Inclusion and diversity are ingrained in the Finding Dory story plot which is audio described (available in iTunes), and with the Echolocation Bailey Finding Dory Toy. The toy kit includes a plastic Dory and a plush animal Bailey, who are used to play an echolocation game of hide-n-seek. Turn on the plastic Dory and then walk around with Bailey. Bailey provides auditory clues to find Dory; when close to Dory, Bailey says, “I found her!”

The Finding Dory video clip below explains echolocation.


Echolocation is the ability to detect objects in the environment by sensing echoes from those objects. Students who are blind can use echolocation to identify objects around them. With practice, students can also use echolocation to identify characteristics of an object, such as the height, width, density and even what the object is made of. For example, many orientation and mobility (O&M) students can identify and label walls, doors, poles and other objects by their composition of wood, metal, cement, glass, etc. All of my students consistently describe windows or objects made out of glass as “shiny”. Auditory Object Perception (AOP) is similar term for echolocation; with AOP, students do not have to tongue click or make specific noises in order to use sound waves to identify objects. For more information about how to introduce young students to echolocation/AOP, see the attached article, I Hear with My Little Ears.

COMS: Finding Dory is a way to introduce and/or reinforce echolocation skills. Encourage parents and classroom teachers to watch the movie with their child and class; be sure to discuss Bailey’s sonor and the concept of echolocation!  This movie is a wonderful tool to help peers understand diversity and a fun way to introduce an O&M concept!

For a mother’s perpsective, view the Sensory Sun blog, Echolocation Toy Makes a Splash.

Attached File(s)
By Diane Brauner

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