Did you know the U.S. Postal Service has a legally mandated program that allows blind or other physically handicapped people to send and receive certain types of mail at no charge? Established more than a century ago — well before the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 — the program is known as Free Matter for the Blind.

What qualifies as Free Matter? Large-type (14-point or larger) documents, braille, audio recordings, and talking book players. When mailed domestically, Free Matter is to be treated as First-Class Mail, and packaging must remain unsealed so that USPS can inspect contents to ensure they’re eligible for postage-free mailing.

Congress recently asked us to review the Postal Service’s procedures for accepting, handling, and delivering Free Matter. We noted that USPS last updated its policy for Free Matter preparation in 2015, but we found that several Free Matter processes could be improved.

For instance, the Postal Service hasn’t implemented procedures for employees carrying out inspections to ensure contents are eligible. We also found that employees didn’t always know policies and procedures for accepting Free Matter, and Free Matter was sometimes processed as Parcel Post instead of First-Class Mail.

But as our audit report points out, things are indeed improving: Postal Service management agreed with two of our three recommendations and either proposed or already took actions that addressed our concerns in the third. For instance, USPS issued a nationwide alert to all retail units on the proper acceptance and mailing of Free Matter. Then, about two months later, management notified all processing operations about the importance of recognizing and properly handling Free Matter.

Have you or someone you know used this program? If so, please tell us about the experience.

Comments (7)

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  • anon

    I have physical disabilities and no transportation or funds for a computer or technical education and I've never heard of this program but it's a wonderful, productive idea.

    Aug 21, 2022
  • anon

    I called the Matawan, NJ, Post Office the beginning of July/2022 and spoke with Louie. I explained that new mail boxes were installed on Park Ave and the Post Office’s driveway. For years we have been able to pull up to these 2 mail boxes & our mail letters. Now with the new mail boxes we can no longer do that because the opening to drop mail in is on the other side of the mail box. You actually have to exit your car and walk around to the other side of the mail box to mail anything. Louie told me they are aware that a mistake was made with the installation of the 2 boxes & when the correct boxes can be located they will be switched out and installed. Nothing has been done to rectify this problem. I wrote to the USPS on 7/26/2022. They assigned case number 40928004 to my complaint but again nothing has been done and today is 8/18/2022. This is a grave mistake and not fair to handicapped people who cannot easily exit their vehicles to mail letters and it needs to be rectified as soon as possible. What was the person thinking who installed these boxes incorrectly?! Please advise how quickly this error will be corrected.

    Aug 18, 2022
  • anon

    I live in an apartment complex that uses mailbox pods. I am also disabled in a wheelchair, and since the apartment management will not install a wheelchair ramp for me, I cannot travel to the mailbox pods to get my mail. Because of this, post office delivers my mail right to my door. This is a wonderful benefit, but there is still a problem associated with it. If I get a new mail carrier, or if my mail carrier goes on vacation, or if my mail carrier takes a day off, the replacement carrier ( known as a floater), does not bring my mail to my door, and I have to ask someone to get the mail for me. I have contacted my local post office about this problem, but they are either unable, or unwilling, to implement something that would ensure that my mail gets delivered to my door when these occasions arise. If anyone has credible advice to offer, please reply to this post.

    Aug 04, 2022
  • anon

    File a complaint with the DFEH against your landlord. They are definitely violating your right to access.

    Sep 08, 2022
  • anon

    I think the postal service is doing very well good job guys 👍🏾 keep up the good work

    Aug 02, 2022
  • anon

    I am disabled and would like to know more about what you offer. I am wheelchair bound and am unable to get to my mailbox. Plus I have medication sent by mail. Is it possible to have it delivered to my covered porch? Thank you.

    Aug 02, 2022
  • anon

    Thank you for contacting the USPS OIG. For more information on how to request door delivery due to a medical condition, please visit faq.usps.com and search “Hardship”.

    Aug 10, 2022