Before the Americans With Disabilities Act happened, going out in public was often difficult for those who are wheelchair bound or use walking aids. Ramps were often not available, and buildings rarely allowed enough space for easy access.
However, things have changed, and the Act requires that buildings and other essential services allow for easy access. This includes centralized mailboxes, as they are an essential service.
This guide will discuss how the new 4C series of mailboxes comply with the ADA, and how you can ensure that you are following the law and allowing everyone safe and easy access to mail delivery.
What Is Centralized Mail Delivery?
Centralized mail delivery is exactly what it sounds like: all mailboxes are in one area. But the definition is a bit more complicated than that.
Centralized mail delivery typically refers to those mailboxes that have multiple customer compartments in the same cabinet. These mailboxes are typically 4B, or the newer, 4C series of mailboxes.
The older 4B mailboxes are outdated and usually comprise square or vertical compartments. These mailboxes date to before the ADA, making them not ideal for installation. To ensure compliance, it is recommended that these older units be replaced with the newer, 4C models.
How Do You Need to Install 4C Mailboxes?
The good news for you is that 4C mailboxes are built with USPS requirements in mind. And the USPS requirements for 4C mailboxes unveiled in 2006, meaning that they are compliant with the ADA.
The USPS worked with the ADA in 2006 to bring its newest series of multi-compartment mailboxes into full compliance. The USPS-STD-4C requirements mean that all 4C mailboxes must be manufactured to make installation and compliance with the ADA easy. However, it is good to know the installation height requirements to ensure that such mailboxes are installed at the correct level.
Height Requirements for 4C Mailboxes
First, not a single customer compartment can be higher than 67 inches from the floor, or about five and a half feet. This means the finished floor, which can be the floor itself after linoleum or some other finish is placed. It can also mean a concrete sidewalk or path that is completed. This is to ensure that no compartment is too high for those of shorter stature to reach.
Also, no customer compartment can sit lower to the ground or floor than 28 inches. This is to ensure that no one needs to kneel or leave or wheelchair in order to retrieve normal mail. This requirement also eases the burden on those with walking aids.
Secondly, parcel lockers must be at least 15 inches from the finished walking surface. This ensures that no customer will have to reach down very far or kneel on the ground to retrieve packages, including wheelchair users. The height refers to the bottom shelf of the parcel locker. Parcel lockers often come with 4C mailbox cabinets and are typically at the bottom of the cabinet.
However, parcel lockers can be purchased separately and added to an existing 4C setup. In this case, use care to ensure that the bottom of the compartment is at least 15 inches from the walking surface.
To ensure access for everyone, at least one 4C customer compartment must be installed somewhere under four feet from the floor or sidewalk. This is to ensure wheelchair users will be able to access one compartment.
Finally, the USPS master lock, or arrow lock, needs to be between three and four feet from the floor or ground surface after installation, to ensure easy access for a USPS employee to open all compartments and deliver mail.
It will help to take measurements of the wall where 4C mailboxes will be mounted or recessed to ensure that all requirements will be met after installation. Freestanding 4C mailboxes won’t need such measurements other than that of the concrete slab to ensure compliance, as they are manufactured to meet these specifications.
Space and Location Recommendations
Where 4C mailboxes are installed matters for those using wheelchairs and adaptive walking equipment such as walkers and crutches. Tight areas should be avoided, and customers should not have to travel any difficult distance to retrieve mail.
In addition to the ADA, the USPS recommends that mailboxes should be installed within one block of where residents or commercial tenants are located, to avoid excessive travel. This is typically in a centralized place such a clubhouse, parking lot island, or lobby.
Leaving enough space for wheelchair users to comfortably navigate in front of any mailbox setup is a must as well. Tight spaces can make it difficult not only for wheelchair users, but for USPS employees to deliver mail, especially if they are handling large mail volumes or packages.
The empty space in front of mailboxes should be 32 inches at minimum to allow wheelchair users to pass through the area, and it’s recommended that each mailbox have at least 48 inches horizontal space in front of it as well. Such a space will allow enough turning space for wheelchairs.
Keeping Mailboxes Clear and Safe
As a property owner, it is your responsibility to keep any areas around mailboxes clear of all obstructions such as vehicles, boxes, garbage, and anything else that could obstruct the delivery and retrieval of mail. Adequate lighting must be provided for those who must retrieve mail and packages at night, and the area must be kept safe from tripping and other hazards. Snow and ice must be cleared from the ground surface around mailboxes as well.
With centralized mail delivery, ensuring that the area is clear is easy, provided they are installed in a central area that is easy to access.
Serving All Postal Customers
When it comes to making sure that all tenants can access mail delivery regardless of disability, injury, or height, 4C mailboxes are an excellent choice. They are manufactured with ADA compliance in mind and approved by the USPS. For all questions regarding ADA compliance and how to meet them with your centralized mailboxes, contact us today.