McCaul is First Alumnus to Chair Florida School for the Deaf and Blind Board of Trustees


Owen McCaul standing in front of FSDB main gate.
Owen McCaul, general counsel for the Second Circuit State Attorney’s Office, has become the first Florida School for the Deaf and Blind alumnus, and first visually impaired person, to chair the FSDB Board of Trustees. McCaul lives with high myopia, or extreme nearsightedness. A 2012 cataract operation improved his vision but left a residual “floater” in his left eye, forcing him to read mostly with his right. He uses a monocular and holds printed material extremely close to his face. “It doesn’t define who I am,” he said. “It’s a fact, just like I’m bald, old, and a little overweight.”

Pity the Second Circuit drug court participant who complains that he can’t get to treatment. Transportation problems are a tough sell with veteran prosecutor Owen McCaul. Legally blind since birth, McCaul has taken the bus to work for nearly 32 years.


A study in self-reliance, McCaul’s experience, compassion, and firmness are a perfect fit for the non-adversarial drug court model, says Leon County Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson.

“He’s an inspiration to the entire drug court team, and he’s an outstanding lawyer,” Judge Richardson says. “Mr. McCaul brings them to the table. He is all about tough love, and it works in treatment court.”


McCaul’s service outside of the courtroom has earned him a niche in Florida history. In 2019, he became the first Florida School for the Deaf and Blind alumnus, and first visually impaired person, to chair the FSDB Board of Trustees.


Founded in 1885, the school is a fully accredited, tuition-free state public school for eligible Pre-K12 students who are deaf/hard of hearing, blind/visually impaired, or deafblind. The residential and day school serves more than 700 students annually through a variety of programs.


“Some of these facts are hard to chase down, of course, but we looked into it when I first came to the board,” McCaul said. “It’s generally accepted that I am the first alum and the first visually impaired person to serve as chair.”


A diagnosis of high myopia, or extreme nearsightedness, prevents McCaul from driving. A 2012 cataract operation improved his vision but left a residual “floater” in his left eye, forcing him to read mostly with his right. He uses a monocular and holds printed material extremely close to his face.


But McCaul navigates the Leon County Courthouse without a cane or service animal, and casual observers are often unaware that he is legally blind.


“I’ve been in social situations chatting with a woman, and she would say, what kind of car do you drive? And I would say, in the back of my mind, Okay, she’s not paying attention.”

When he was a trial attorney, McCaul was always careful to notify jurors of his condition.


“I didn’t want them to think something strange was going on,” he said. “Of course, I never made it a feature of the case.”


McCaul recalls fondly the first time he had to tell a judge in the felony division that non-verbal cues from the bench wouldn’t work.