Blind alumnus Owen McCaul leads by example as chair of the board of FSDB

Owen McCaul standing in front of the FSDB main gate.

Owen B. McCaul of Tallahassee is chair of the Board of Trustees at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, which is a state public school and outreach center available at no cost to eligible pre-K and K-12 students who are deaf/hard of hearing, blind/visually impaired or deaf-blind.

Previously McCaul served as vice chair for nine years and has been a trustee since 2006, initially appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush. He is the first FSDB alumnus (1982) and the first person who is blind or visually impaired to serve as board chair.

McCaul works as an assistant state attorney in Leon County, a position he has held since 1989. He serves as general counsel for State Attorney Jack Campbell of the 2nd Judicial Circuit of Florida (Leon, Gadsden, Jefferson, Liberty, Wakulla and Franklin Counties).

He represents the State of Florida in Leon County Felony Drug Court, Baker Act hearings, and in numerous extradition matters. He also represents the State Attorney’s office on Leon County's Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee and the Public Safety Coordinating Council. McCaul earned his bachelor’s degree from Flagler College (1985) and a Juris Doctor degree from the Florida State University College of Law (1988).

From bullying to thriving at school

Corrective glasses or contact lenses generally resolve vision issues for people with nearsightedness (myopia). However, for people with extreme nearsightedness (high myopia), it may be difficult to see anything more than a few feet away from the face, even with correction.

McCaul’s extreme nearsightedness was not fully diagnosed until he was 18 months old. He said that “they strapped a pair of glasses to me and I was off!” He also explained that he compensated throughout his school years by learning early on to “fly by the seat of my pants with very few notes. This was very useful when I was handling my felony trial caseload.”

By the time he entered high school, McCaul had experienced bullying about his thick glasses. He persuaded his parents to let him transfer to the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind and says that “there is no question in my mind that FSDB was the right choice — it served as the foundation for my success in college and career as an attorney.”

While at FSDB, McCaul met Dr. William Proctor, then the President of Flagler College, who saw McCaul’s promise even in high school and was pleased McCaul chose Flagler for his bachelor’s degree.

“I was delighted when he was appointed to the FSDB Board of Trustees and extremely pleased to learn of his election as board chair in 2019," Proctor said. "We at Flagler College take considerable pride in Owen McCaul’s many accomplishments, and as a former chairman of the FSDB Board of Trustees myself, I am honored that we share a common legacy.”

A leader in the State Attorney’s Office

Upon completing his Juris Doctor degree from the Florida State University College of Law, McCaul conquered in five mon