Accessible Mailboxes

Posted on - Saturday, December 24th, 2016

Mailboxes and the ADA

Mailboxes found in public accommodations, according the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, are considered storage.  5% of the mailboxes must be within reach range.  These would be found in post offices and retail stores that offer mail box rentals for example.
In ADA the mail boxes could be approached either on a side approach or forward approach and follow the reach ranges shown on the figures below.
In addition, they must also follow the section 309 and have hardware that does not require tight grasping and twisting of the wrist, no more than five pounds and must be able to be operated with one hand.  Since most of the time, mail boxes require a key to unlock, a special key could be provided that would allow for easier operation.

Mailboxes and Fair Housing Act and ANSI A117.1

According to HUD, in a non-elevator building, where the only required or “covered” units are on the first floor, only the number of mailboxes for those units are  required. But in a building with an elevator where all units must meet the FHA requirements, then all mailboxes must be accessible. A letter was sent from HUD to the USPS that explains this ruling.  Click here for the letter.
The FHA requirements for accessible mailboxes are as follows:
  1. The high reach range can be no higher than 54″ a.f.f. to the operable part of the mail box
  2. The lowest reach range can be no lower than 15″ a.f.f. to the operable part
  3. Mailboxes should be on an accessible route and have clear floor space in front of it.
ANSI is similar to ADA and only 5% are required to comply.  The 5% should coincide with the Type A units.

US Postal Service requirements

To confuse the issue, the USPS has entirely different standards.  They wrote the USPS-STD-4C.  The reach ranges are higher than the Fair Housing.

  1. The top reach is 67″ a.f.f.
  2. the bottom reach is 15″ a.f.f.
These are not dictating accessible reach ranges, therefore the accessible mailboxes must still meet the ADA, ANSI and Fair Housing guidelines in order to comply.  The ADA reach ranges are a safe harbor since they are the most strict.
 Below is one example

Need CEUs

If you are interested in Building Code seminars check out my colleague Shahla Layendecker with SSTL Codes
If you want to learn more about these standards, be sure to check out my books:

They are available for sale now. (also available as an e-book)

If you have any questions about these or any other topics, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Marcela Abadi Rhoads, RAS #240
Abadi Accessibility
214. 403.8714