"Free Matter for the Blind" Postal Regulations

Postage-Free Mail Regulations

Federal Postal regulations allow certain mail to be sent to or from blind or other print-handicapped persons free of postage. You will need to be certified by a competent authority as unable to read conventional reading material to qualify for this service. More information can be found in the downloadable pamphlet Mailing Free Matter for Persons Who are Blind or Visually Impaired: Questions and Answers (PDF). The following materials can be sent postage-free:

  • Reading matter and musical scores;
  • Sound reproductions;
  • Paper, records, tapes, and other material for the production of reading matter, musical scores, or sound reproductions;
  • Reproducers or parts of them for sound reproductions;
  • Braille writers, typewriters, educational or other materials or devices, or parts thereof, used for writing by, or adapted for the use of a blind or print-handicapped person;
  • Letters which are written in raised characters or type that is 14 points or larger, or in the form of sound recordings, if unsealed and sent by blind or other print-handicapped persons.

Matter sent must meet the following conditions:

  1. Matter must be for the use of a blind or print-handicapped person;
  2. Letters cannot be written or printed by hand, or typed in a type size smaller than 14 points;
  3. Either no charge, rental, subscription, or other fee is required for this material, or, if required, it may not exceed the cost of the item;
  4. Matter may be opened and inspected by the Postal Service;
  5. Matter contains no advertising;
  6. Letters prepared in any format by sighted people to be sent to blind individuals, and empty shipping materials for mailing matter described in this section, may not be sent free and must bear full postage.

Additional Information:

  1. Mail sent as free matter must be marked "Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped" in the upper right corner of the address side;
  2. Mail must meet the minimum and maximum dimensions for mailing material found elsewhere in postal regulations;
  3. Mail sent as free matter is treated as First-Class Mail only for the purposes of determining appropriate standards for processing and delivery, and for handling if undeliverable;
  4. Insurance can be added to mail sent as free matter, and the sender must pay the insurance fee.

International Mail

International mail may be sent as free matter for the blind or handicapped if marked "Free Matter for the Blind" in the upper right corner of the address side of the mail piece.

The following information can be sent:

  • Books, periodicals and other matter (including unsealed letters) that is in braille or "special type for the use of the blind"
  • Plates for embossing literature for the blind;
  • Disks, tapes, or wires bearing voice recordings and special paper intended solely for the use of the blind, provided they are sent by or addressed to an officially recognized institution for the blind;
  • Sound recordings or tapes that are mailed by a blind person.

Personal Stories

  • Amy Bovaird: Mobility Matters
    As a person with retinitis pigmentosa, "Mobility matters. It allows me to join the rest of society, follow my interests and passion, and reconnect with my love for traveling. I don't have to stay at home fearing the dark anymore. I can live independently."

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