Behind Carroll's Campus Center information desk, high atop a shelf there sits a large, heavy case that, once opened, gives Gregg Wandsneider '08 another way to communicate. He leaves it there sometimes while he actively goes about his business at Carroll - volunteering, mentoring students, and hosting a radio show on the university's WCCX station. Inside the case sits his braille typewriter, which provides another way for him to connect with students. He not only teaches braille to anyone interested in learning but also freely talks about his experiences with using it.
January is National Braille Literacy Awareness Month in honor of Louis Braille, who was also blind and developed the code of raised dots nearly 200 years ago to make text readable for individuals like himself. Gregg encourages people to feel free to ask him anything, including questions about his blindness and his use of braille. Gregg, a communication alumnus, accepts no limitations to a life that started with blindness at birth.
Q: Can you tell me about your background, such as why you came to Carroll?
A: I have a strong interest in radio and I've always from little on wanted to be a radio DJ. So I found WCCX on my radio dial probably in the mid to late 90s. What got me involved was my friend invited me to Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I asked him if he wanted to do a radio show with me. I was DJ Blind Faith and he was Dave the Rave. Well then I actually started doing more at Carroll, like started hanging out in the PIT. So it was the spring of 2002 or 2003 that I actually took my first undergraduate course at Carroll. I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree in communication in May of 2008.
Q: Can you explain more about Braille?
A: Braille is a series of bumps and dots which help blind people to read. I have been told that braille is composed of 270 different dot combinations. I still don't know if I know all of them. It was originally invented as a military language. Braille was invented by a man named Louis Braille and braille books are still produced today. I teach braille to people on campus to this day. Braille books are a lot bigger than print books. They say that it takes three braille pages to equal one print page. A braille dictionary is 36 volumes. My braille bible is 26 or 27 volumes. Another fun fact is that if you want to erase something in braille, you just scratch it out with your finger.
Q: What are some commonly asked questions or misconceptions about Braille?
A: I think a lot of times people think if something is raised that I will be able to read it. If it's raised print, I still don't know the shape, because braille letters have different shapes to them. Braille can be done in other languages. I learned French through learning it in braille. Braille can be found on many drive-up ATMs. That's funny if you think about it, because what blind person is going to drive up to an ATM and look for the braille.
Q: What would you like others to know about life being blind?
A: I would like people to know that people who are blind are just people who happen to have this disability known as blindness. And what I mean by that is many people who are blind are very successful, prominent people in the community. I also think it's good for people to know that people who are blind don't need to be treated differently. Or also what happens, is sometimes because I can't see, people think they need to raise their voice when they talk to me. I want people to know most of all, that they can come up to me and ask me questions.
Q: Can you list some of the ways you are involved with Carroll University and the community?
A: I work with WCCX, the radio station here on campus. I also attend some of the events given by the chaplain. I call myself a really involved non-student. And I also call myself a student encouragement specialist. Because I just love to be around in whatever ways I can encourage students. Whether it's saying a prayer for them. Whether it's just talking to them. Listening to them. I'm helping them gain confidence as a host on the radio. I think that's a big thing. Last year I served on the spiritual life advisory board. I received the (Carroll) Graduate of Last Decade Award (2015). I also call myself a peopleologist, which means I love people. I just try to be a goodwill ambassador for Carroll University.
Q: Why have you chosen to continue to be so active on campus after graduation?
A: Carroll gave so much to me. I've grown so much through Carroll. I've realized that Carroll's taught me that when you hear one side to the story, there's always more than one side to every story. Before I came to Carroll I was kind of a close-minded sort of Christian and Carroll has made me a lot more open-minded. And some of my favorite professors are Dr. Rebecca Imes and Dr. Joe Dailey and Dr. Melvin Vance. They just give so much to me. They taught me how to think. And I want to give that back to students, which is why I'm thinking of doing my master's degree in college student personnel and development. I just really like being involved, plus it's just a fun atmosphere.