Every year for the past 12 years, the City of Alachua chapter of the Lions Club holds the White Cane Walk – an event aimed at raising awareness of Florida’s White Cane Laws. These laws require drivers to yield the right of way when a visually impaired person with a guide dog or a white cane crosses the street. The walk spanned from the old Alachua city hall area to the Lions Club building across the current Alachua City Hall. Walkers included blind and visually impaired participants, as well as sighted participants.
At the end of the walk, there were several activities for sighted participants to take place in. To be done while blindfolded, these activities helped the sighted participants to see what it’s like to do typical everyday activities for a blind or visually impaired person, like unlocking a door, counting money or pouring a glass of water.
The walk was started 12 years ago by current Assistant City Manager Adam Boukari when he was a Boy Scout.
This photos story ties in with several concepts discussed by photojournalist Kenneth Kobré in Photojournalism: The Professionals’ Approach, in his chapter on photo stories. The blind and visually impaired individuals photographed would fall in the category of “one person representing an abstract topic”; as they represent the larger blind and visually impaired population. In addition, the photos of a Boy Scout doing daily activities while blindfolded falls in this category, since he represents the larger sighted population, which does not readily understand the difficulties faced by those who are blind or visually impaired. Visual consistency is present in the collection of photos with the same few people, with the generally same mood (everyone’s excitement to be in the walk is apparent), and theme (the White Cane Walk). It is also a narrative story as well, as it shows everyone being welcomed at the start of the walk, going on the walk, and doing activities at the end of the walk. Kobré discusses the ideas of complication and resolution; the complication could be going on the walk, as it is a challenging journey for the blind and visually impaired and for the sighted individuals who chose to do it blindfolded. As the subject was a single event, it doesn’t seem to have parallels with the photo stories included by Kobré in the chapter.
More photos of the walk are here. Interviews with some of the participants are below:
Jack Varnon is Second Vice President of the Alachua County Council of the Blind. Here, he shares an experience that led him to try to raise awareness of the White Cane Law.
Adam Boukari is Assistant City Manager with the City of Alachua. He also played a central role in the creation of the White Cane Walk as a Boy Scout. Here, he discusses how the idea came about, and what it means for him now.
Everett Melvin is a Boy Scout who participated in the White Cane Walk blindfolded and participated in some of the activities after. Here, he talks about the experience.