3D maps, wind chimes help visually impaired Texas A&M students

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COLLEGE STATION - There are two new initiatives on Texas A&M's campus aimed at helping visually impaired students get around much more easily.

Mechanical Engineer Freshman Tyler Wooten says, "I had just recently taken some 3D printing classes and I thought, what can I do to help? I want to help people."

The answer he came up with? 3D maps. They're complete with braille, to help visually impaired students get around campus.

His first step was to join forces with Kaitlyn Kellermeyer, a Texas A&M Senior who lost her vision several years ago.

Kellermeyer says, "The first meeting with Tyler, he just struck me. He was just so enthusiastic, so genuinely excited about the project. Because he's not visually impaired, he doesn't have any history with it, he just genuinely wanted to make a difference."

Wooten says, "Getting feedback from Kaitlyn really encouraged me to keep going with this project. It's on it's 6th or 7th generation, so it's come a long way so far."

Tyler hopes to print out enough maps so every student who needs one can have one to keep in their backpack by this Summer.

Kellermeyer says, "There's some buildings that I though were connected that weren't. There's some that I thought weren't connected that were. Weird little courtyards in buildings that I didn't know existed. It was just really good to get a better understanding of the space I've been living in for the past three years."

In addition to the maps, there's another effort to help those who can't see. Levi McClenny, the Student Government Association's Executive Vice President has been hard at work too.

He says he want "to help these students and make them feel more welcome on our campus."

Levi is on a mission to set up an endowment fund. The hope is they'll get enough donations so there will always be money to help maintain the 10 on-campus wind chimes, which give students auditory clues to help them figure out which building they're by.

They're also hoping the wind chimes and 3D maps will help put A&M on the map so to speak, perhaps attracting a new set of students who otherwise may not have come there.

McClenney says, "This could be the tipping point to get a visually impaired student to choose A&M over another campus, but more so than that, this project could be the tipping point for a student who doesn't even have visual impairment to go, and say I want to go to a school that has those values."

Kaitlyn couldn't agree more, and says she's never been prouder to be an Aggie.

She says, "Tyler was a stranger and he's done something that will make my life and so many other lives so much easier."

If you'd like to donate to the wind chime endowment fund, you can email Levi at levimcclenny@tamu.edu. Their goal is to get at least $25,000. They haven't quite reached that goal yet, but they're well on their way.