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Talladega mayor, city manager spend an afternoon learning a bit about blind lives

TALLADEGA — Talladega Mayor Timothy Ragland and City Manager Seddrick Hill had an opportunity to learn about the lives of their blind constituents Tuesday during the run up to annual White Cane Day.

Ragland and Hill were both blindfolded and given a fast course in negotiating Talladega’s city streets using only a cane and the constant contact, two-point touch and shore-lining methods, primarily. Alabama Institutes for Deaf and Blind Director of Blind Services Rod Skene lead the group from E.H. Gentry to the Square, and orientation and mobility specialists Amber James and Kellie Bond assisted them in making the journey.

AIDB President Dr. John Mascia said he particularly wanted to “thank the city leaders for helping to make our city more accessible to blind and low vision citizens.”

Ragland had made a similar walk once before, with Councilmen Joe Power and Trae Williams, and he was glad to be able to do it again.

“It’s important to be able to walk in someone else’s shoes,” he said. “You can’t understand until you do. It helps to sympathize and to work to make our city more inclusive.”

Hill agreed, saying, “I’m happy that I’m in a position to be able to do this, to make positive changes. We need to make sure that everyone can travel safely, and we’re working on grants and ideas to address our immediate needs. It’s important for everyone to be able to have a sense of pride.”

The mayor and manager had the opportunity to experience a variety of situations on the walk, including sidewalks that were sometimes uneven or absent altogether, rough patches in the pavement, grass and ever present traffic close at hand on Alabama 21/Battle Street.