News | July 27, 2015

NSA Marks the 25th Anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act

In the quarter century since President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, on July 26, 1990, the National Security Agency has made major strides in ensuring that persons with disabilities are welcomed and given the tools to succeed in the fast-paced intelligence environment.

Since the passage of the ADA, NSA has increased its recruiting, hiring and retention efforts for persons with disabilities and expanded the agency's reasonable accommodation services and equipment.  Those key advances across all NSA locations include restroom functionality, deployable bus ramps for shuttles, and campus access including swing gates with telephones nearby for assistance. 

Other critical accommodations that have been added to NSA's workspaces include a dedicated staff of American Sign language interpreters, a scooter program to assist employees with mobility challenges and the Intelligence Community's first diabetic alert service dog.

"I am proud of the reasonable accommodations NSA has implemented over the past 25 years to ensure each of us contributes our best to mission success," said Marlisa L. Smith, director of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity.  "Our leadership is committed to providing an environment where all people, including those with disabilities, have long and productive careers and we are proud to assist our employees with disabilities in performing their duties to the best of their abilities and allowing them to make a difference for our country every day."

NSA has been noted as a leader and model agency for reasonable accommodations and also has a strong reputation for its commitment to people with disabilities.  Since the ADA was passed, at least 13 employees with disabilities have received the Secretary of Defense award for outstanding contributions to national security.  NSA has also received the Secretary of Defense award for outstanding achievement in employment of individuals with disabilities at least three times, most recently in 2014.