Little Rock, Arkansas
By Gaia Squarci
I’ll never forget the day I first came in contact with blindness. It was a day in November 2011. A couple of months earlier, I had come to New York to pursue photography, shaping an identity largely based on what I see and the way I see it. Blindness was pure terror for a photographer like me – and it was also mysterious.
On that day, I walked into Visions, a center for the blind, and 10 minutes later I was sitting on an armchair with a weird hat on my head, posing for a picture in a photography class. I was totally confused but simultaneously my focus crystallized. I wanted to see — and photograph — what the sighted don’t imagine is still possible for the blind.
Dale Layne, 31, was one of the blind photographers in that class. Dale is from Guyana and is talkative and composed. Since, he’s become a friend and a point of reference when I try to explore perceptions of space and time, identity, culture, memory and love, as heavily altered by the lack of vision.
Dale picked up the phone dozens of times to help me in this process and I was intrigued when one day he told me he would move to Arkansas to study IT in a school for the blind. I knew it would be a key experience for him. Technology has always been a passion for him but I had never seen Dale satisfied with his employment situation.
I recall seeing him disassembling a computer at home and fixing it in front of me, using the visual memory that he had from before glaucoma took his sight at age 19.