Gregg Receives Student of Achievement Award

Truman senior computer science major Sierra Gregg received the Student of Achievement Award from the St. Louis Society for the Blind & Visually Impaired at its Visionary Gala April 13 for her ingenuity to make historical documents from presidential libraries accessible to the blind and visually impaired.

In the summer of 2011, Gregg, herself visually impaired, was chosen as the social media intern at the Office of Presidential Libraries within the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Since she has always wanted to work in a library or archive environment, the National Archives internship seemed like a natural fit.

By July of that year, Gregg started searching around in the National Archives digital catalogs for records relating to the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Signed on July 26,1990 by George H. W. Bush, the ADA was a ground breaking civil rights act for the disabilities community. To her dismay, she found only two records relating to the signing of the ADA in the Archive’s digital catalog. Neither of those two records was the Act itself. She could see lists of records relating to the Act, but they had not been digitized, meaning a researcher would either have to travel to the physical location of the record or request a copy.

Because Gregg wanted to increase the number of digitized records relating to the ADA, she submitted a proposal for the Americans with Disabilities records webpage. The scope of the original project grew far beyond what she and her supervisor had first imagined. During the last few weeks of her first summer in Washington, D.C., Gregg helped write the proposal and a request for digitized records that was sent out to the 13 presidential libraries. When the summer ended, she came back to Truman for the school year, and although she did not work directly on the project, she stayed in contact with her supervisor.

When Gregg returned to Washington, D.C., in 2012, almost all of her time was devoted to completing the project. By then, the libraries had sent back a list of more than 50 different records, including pictures and text documents, relating to Americans with disabilities. Each library’s records illustrated that president’s work with people with disabilities. For example, the Roosevelt Library’s records focused on Polio and the Kennedy Library’s records focused on mental impairments. Gregg helped coordinate getting these digitized records listed in the online catalog and the development of the webpage. During the week of July 26, the Office of Presidential Libraries did a series of posts to all of its social media outlets about the launch of the new webpage. They even reached out to some of the organizations mentioned in the records, such as the Special Olympics, Blinded Veterans Association and the March of Dimes, to see if they could help spread the word. They also wrote a post for the blog, which also appeared on the National Archives' blog and’s blog.

Even though Gregg will not be working for the National Archive this summer, she hopes the webpage continues to grow to include more records from the presidential libraries and would like to have the opportunity to work with them again. Her experiences working for the Office of Presidential Libraries have reinforced her desire to work in a library/archives environment.

“Knowledge is the most important thing; it must be protected and preserved so that future generations can learn from the successes and the failures of the past,” Gregg said.

About two months ago, Gregg received a phone call from her parents, informing her that the St. Louis Society for the Blind had awarded her the Student of Achievement Award. Shocked and overwhelmed by the news, she hopes that the publicity from this award will help spread the word about the Americans with Disabilities records webpage.

“I am truly honored that the Society for the Blind has awarded me the Student of Achievement Award, but I am not the only one that needs to be recognized for creating this new resource,” she said. “Everyone who works for the Office of Presidential Libraries, the archivists that collected the records and numerous other people who work for the National Archives helped make this webpage possible. Without them, these important historical records would not be accessible to everyone interested in learning more about disability history.”

Gregg’s project can be found online at