Close Menu

Postal Problems with Free Matter for the Blind

Answers by Tom Martin, National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped

Q. Isn't "free matter" mail supposed to be handled like first class mail?
A. Unfortunately, in most post offices today first class mail service is set up to only handle letters and flats (unfolded sheets of paper). Boxes are routinely handled in package mail and most of our mail is in boxes. In most cases it is really not possible for a post office or bulk mailing center to process our mail as they do first class mail. However, delivery of "Free Matter" mail could and should be the same as that for first class mail.

According to the Domestic Mail Manual, postmasters are required to keep a file on their customers who qualify for the free mailing privileges with a copy of their certification by competent authority that they are unable to read normal reading material. However postmasters may exempt blind or other handicapped persons from this certification requirement when he/she "has personal knowledge that a particular customer has been certified as blind or handicapped."

Q. What is the best way to handle postal problems?
A. 1. Start with the local Postmaster. Make an appointment and explain the problem. Explain that you would like the postmaster to know that these occurrences are happening so that he/she can advise their employees. In other words, begin by trying to gain the cooperation and support of the local postmaster.

2. If the problem continues contact the consumer advocate for that post office. There is a consumer advocate at every post office or larger region (for smaller post offices). Ask at the local post office for the telephone number and address of the consumer advocate in the area. You may make inquiries or complaints by telephone, letter, or in person or by using the postage-paid cards available at all post offices.

3. If you are still not satisfied write to the Postmaster General.

TBBL MA 11-26-2008