Tyson, 31, is a Senior at Utah Tech University studying Communications. He is the first of two siblings living with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare eye disease affecting how the retina interprets light. Tyson’s sight began to degrade in the third grade when he remembers wearing thick glasses to aid his vision and needing multi-volume large-print textbooks for classes. Though he can distinguish shapes and people of high contrast with the help of corrective glasses, Tyson broke so many pairs that he decided to stop wearing them, choosing to rely on his little remaining vision and a walking cane when in public. 

Tyson trained at the Utah Division of Services for the Blind and Low Vision at the age of 18 to learn how to rely on his other senses to travel, clean, cook, and other life skills. He is considered a master at mental mapping, a skill in which someone can memorize their surroundings using specific environmental triggers, and has relied on these skills to confidently travel and live in multiple states. 

He relied on environmental sounds to help him when traveling outside but admits this system is not without flaws. “Yesterday there was new construction on my path to school and it interfered with my environmental sounds. I couldn’t tell if I was going left or right or straight ahead, and accidentally veered into traffic! I didn’t realize it until a guy yelled at me from his car!” 

Tyson continues to love dinosaurs, movies, collaborative games, and Star Wars. When asked how he would use Hearsee’s environment description service Tyson quickly replied, “The dinosaur museum! I grew up liking dinosaurs. A lot of museum displays show a descriptive video or audio, but they don’t actually describe the skeletons or displays. Sometimes it’s nice to be with someone who can describe the surroundings to you, but it would be great to appreciate the displays when I’m alone.”

Tyson - Member of the Blind Community