Skip to main content

Sierra Gregg - A Trailblazer for Americans with Disabilities

  • Published: 2013-01-13 (Revised/Updated 2013-01-15) : Author: Lighthouse for the Blind - Saint Louis
  • Synopsis: Sierra Gregg at Missouri Truman State University is legally blind but proves hard work dedication and belief in a cause can overcome all limitations.

Main Document

Sierra Gregg, a senior at Missouri's Truman State University who is legally blind, proves that hard work, dedication and belief in a cause can overcome all limitations.

Sierra discovered in 2011 that almost all of archived documents about the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) on the ADA website for the Presidential Libraries & Museums at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., were not digitized. Dismayed, Sierra began a project to convert more than 50 archived ADA documents on the website into digital formats, which are more accessible to readers with limited vision.

Sierra, now age 21, spent the past two summers in Washington, D.C., leading that effort as an intern at the Presidential Libraries. Sierra's initiative earned White House recognition.

Sierra was born with a rare birth defect that left her legally blind. Raised in St. Louis, she became involved with the Lighthouse for the Blind - Saint Louis, Sierra attended the Lighthouse Summer Transition Employment program (STEP), and later earned two scholarships through the Lighthouse Continuing Education program. The scholarships covered housing costs for a summer internship in the nation's capitol.

Sierra, who is a Computer Science major with a focus in Library Science, in January 2011 applied for a summer internship at the Presidential Libraries & Museums. Sierra says, "I can't explain why I decided to apply for an internship. It was so far outside my comfort zone, but I was taught to overcome my limitations and this internship was calling to me.

Sierra hoped for an internship where she could further explore her interest in library management. John Thompson, president of Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis, wrote a letter of recommendation for her. Sierra was surprised and thrilled to receive an internship requiring her to monitor and write content for the social media pages of the Presidential Libraries. With no prior social media experience, but a propensity for tackling challenges, Sierra left for Washington in summer, 2011.

Washington D.C. presented major culture shock for Sierra. She had an hour-long commute every day on crowded buses and congested metro trains, a daunting task for anyone but especially for people who are blind. Sierra says, "If I had not attended the Lighthouse STEP program and received training in mobility and how to travel independently, I would never have made it in D.C."

Sierra quickly adapted to her new position of writing and researching content to post on the social media pages for the Presidential Libraries. Midway through summer, Sierra decided to write a post about a topic near and dear to her: The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. While researching the act, Sierra discovered that only two of the archived documents on the ADA website were digitized (Digitized documents are more accessible to readers with limited vision.) Sierra also was disappointed to learn that most official records and manuscripts documenting the history of people with disabilities were not accessible to her or others with visual impairments. She seized the opportunity to make a positive difference. Sierra spent the remainder of her summer developing a proposal to convert archived documents on the ADA website into digital documents.

Sierra left D.C. that first summer hopeful she would have the opportunity to continue her project. A few months later, she was overjoyed to find out she had been invited to return to D.C. for a second internship in summer, 2012.

"Without scholarships from Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis, I would not have been able to have internships in Washington, D.C.," she asserts. This past summer, Sierra worked with several special interest groups and representatives at the National Archives to make her proposal a reality.

On July 26, 2012, the 22nd anniversary of the signing of the ADA, the National Archives launched Sierra's new web page embedded within the ADA website containing 56 newly digitized documents. These records include letters written by Helen Keller to President Herbert Hoover ( and a Braille letter written to President Dwight D. Eisenhower by John Beaulieu. (

The ADA was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. The ground-breaking law mandated universal accessibility to Americans who are disabled. The White House wrote about Sierra's achievement on its blog at

Sierra says, "I was born visually impaired one year after the signing of the ADA. I have grown up in a world where my visual impairment is not a hindrance to my success, only a characteristic of who I am. The ADA has made it possible for me to get the help I need to work toward my academic and professional goals."

Sierra, who attended Ursuline Academy in St. Louis when she was growing up, plans to attend graduate school upon earning her Computer Science major degree at Truman State University. She dreams of working in a major library where she can continue her work to help make literature and documents more accessible to those who are visually impaired. Bravo, Sierra!


• Discuss this article on our FaceBook Page.

Similar Topics

1 : Last of the Seven Summits - Making History for Hemophilia! : Save One Life, Inc..
2 : Amputee Model Breaking Barriers in Fashion and Shattering Stigma of Disability : Global Disability Inclusion.
3 : Steven Foelsch - A Busy Advocate for People with Disabilities : Starkloff Disability Institute in St. Louis.
4 : Diabetic NASCAR Driver Wins at Daytona International Speedway : Eli Lilly and Company.
5 : Two-Time Cancer Survivor Heads to South Pole : Milestones Communications.
From our Motivational - Inspirational section - Full List (38 Items)

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.

Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.

Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.

List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.

Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.

1 : Help Your Child in School by Adding Language to The Math
2 : 50% of Retirees Saw Little or No COLA Increase in Net 2018 Social Security Benefits
3 : Turnstone Endeavor Games Concludes with National Records Broken
4 : Spinning in Circles and Learning From Myself by Tsara Shelton
5 : St. Louis HELP Medical Equipment Donation Drive Generates Record-Breaking Results
6 : People Who Snore Suffer from Palate Nerve and Muscle Damage
7 : How Our Ancestors with Autistic Traits Led a Revolution in Ice Age Art
8 : Housing and Disabled People: Britains Hidden Crisis

Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.

© 2004 - 2018 Disabled World™