Jun 5, 2023

Breaking Barriers as an Attorney With Usher Syndrome

Beacon Stories

Tara is a woman of extraordinary talents. A beloved twin sister, mother of two, and wife of 10 years, Tara leads a fulfilling life dedicated to advocating for others through law.

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By Simone Robinson

A native of California, Tara was born with a hearing impairment and wore hearing aids from five years old. As she entered her adolescence, she began to have issues with her peripheral and night vision.

Tara outside

Tara began working in the restaurant industry at the age of 15. During her time as a cocktail waitress at a local family-owned restaurant, her vision loss became more apparent. She would often bump into objects and people, but this was continuously written off as a quirky character trait.

“I would always run into everybody, and everyone attributed it to my personality since I’m a very energetic person,” she says.

She frequently mentioned her issues with peripheral and night vision to her optometrist in Scottsdale during her annual visits, but she was assured that it was not a cause for concern. It was not until she moved to Tucson for law school and started seeing a new optometrist that she became closer to discovering the truth.

After noticing that her astigmatism was getting worse and discovering that she was hard of hearing, he referred her to a retina specialist. In 2012, after undergoing genetic testing, she was formally diagnosed with Usher syndrome type 2A (USH2A) during her final year of graduate school.

“Realizing that I’m hard of hearing and losing my eyesight was very devastating,” says Tara. “There have been a lot of challenges, but the biggest challenge for me has been facing the unknown. Not knowing how long I have left to see has been hard, so I just try to enjoy every day and spend time outside looking around.”

Tara completed her studies at the University of Arizona College of Law despite her diagnosis and established a successful career as an attorney, specializing in child welfare. Initially inspired by her father’s experience with the law, she increasingly became passionate about advocating for others.

Tara outside with her two daughters

“When I was in law school, I did a child and family law clinic for over a year, which provided hands-on experience,” says Tara.  “I was able to go to court and advocate for real clients, so that’s what ignited my interest in child welfare. I really enjoyed helping the families when I could.”

After passing the Arizona bar exam, she represented the Department of Child Safety with the Attorney General’s Office and currently represents the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.

 Tara has curated an amazing support system over the years, including family, friends, and colleagues. She has also formed connections with fellow deaf-blind support groups such as the Foundation Fighting Blindness, participating in events such as the local Arizona VisionWalk and 28 Mile Walk/Run Facebook Challenge to connect further with individuals who share similar experiences.

“Since I represent a tribe in the entire United States, there are times when I may have to go out of town for a case. My coworkers have been fantastic with driving me and picking me up,” she says.

Beyond the legal realm, Tara continues to lead a life of advocacy, participating on the board of directors for the Usher Syndrome Coalition and engaging in discussions with legislators in Washington, D.C., through events such as ‘Ush on Capitol Hill’ to encourage for more funding and cures. She also utilizes social media to shed light on deaf-blind diseases and her personal experiences through her Instagram @UshLawyerMom.

Tara outside with her husband and daughters

“Over the last few months, I’ve become more involved in the deaf-blind community because I realized there needs to be more awareness,” says Tara. “A lot of people think that blindness is just someone who sees black, but they don’t realize that it’s really on a spectrum.”

Tara looks forward to continuing her journey of activism inside and outside the courtroom and creating lifelong memories with her two daughters as they begin to travel the world together.