Greg Wetzel is a student at NHCC studying Liberal Arts. He enjoys school, but also finds it challenging at times, because he is partially blind. Greg uses a magnifier to read, that he got from State Services for the Blind. Access Services has also helped him out by allowing him to have extra time to take tests and exams in the Testing Center. To read a textbook, Greg uses his magnifier (which also acts as a camera) on paper, so he can see the text blown up on the computer. “Using resources from State Services for the Blind and Access Services have been very helpful in order to help me navigate college.”
Greg is a traditional student, who applied and got into NHCC before graduating from Champlin Park High School in 2017. Although initially, Greg was planning on going to a four-year school, his mom later suggested he give community college a try. “So, we looked into the closest community college and it was North Hennepin.” He went to an informational meeting and got a tour of the campus and it seemed pretty easy for him to get around. “I remember touring the Math Center and the Science Center and seeing the music and theater departments. To me, NHCC came off as easy to navigate. The orientation leader was friendly and helpful in answering questions. That was how I decided that North Hennepin would be a good fit.”
Right now, Greg is taking two classes at NHCC: American Sign Language 1 and a creative writing course with Brian Baumgart, called Writing Stories. Greg likes his courses, but he prefers in-person classes to online classes. For Greg, online courses require a lot more work, than in-person courses. “Brian’s class is still a fun course. I find Writing Stories is a little bit easier, because on my laptop, there’s magnification and I can change the font color and the background color. So, I’m able to easily see what I’m typing and what I’m reading.” The American Sign Language 1 course is much tougher for Greg, even when he has videos and can zoom in on the professor’s hand movements, it’s difficult. “Sometimes my mom has to help me with that class.”
Along with extra time, Access Services also introduced Greg to the ReadSpeaker: Text to Speech program, on D2L. That has been an extremely helpful tool. Instead of having to use the magnifier to read, the ReadSpeaker: Text to Speech program speeds up the time it takes him to read a textbook. Access Services showed Greg another new feature too, called Natural Reader. This helps him to highlight text and listen to it by pressing play. “Aside from providing me with extra testing time and getting my textbooks onto D2L ReadSpeaker, I am also very grateful to Access Services for helping me in the spring of 2020. They were willing to go through a very difficult task for me, in which they had to scan every page of my textbook chapter, put it into a PDF and then upload it to D2L. That sounds pretty tedious to me, but they were very willing to help.”
“I would like partially blind, or completely blind students coming to North Hennepin, to know that the professors are accommodating and that there are truly nice and open people here. Although, I’ve never announced myself as, ‘Hey, I’m Greg. I’m partially blind.’ I’ve just gone into classes and done my thing. Because of that, I think that’s why other students around me have been accepting. Allow your sighted peers to give you a chance, compared to you going into it with that thought of ‘we’re different.’ Know that Access Services are there and very willing to help you out. Just go to them and simply explain what you need help with. They are very much willing to automatically say, ‘Ok, here’s what we can do for you.’ They explain the available options and are very helpful. I’m very grateful myself for Access Services.”
In May of 2021, Greg will graduate from NHCC. He then plans on transferring to Mankato State, to get a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing.