Throughout December, we have reflected on the previous year, and we have begun to set goals for the swiftly approaching New Year. December is a great time to get organized to be ready for all that the holiday season and the New Year has to offer, so get excited to dive into these topics with us this month:
- Organizing Your Wallet
- Organizing Your Kitchen
- Organizing Your Clothing
- Organizing Your Mail
In this fourth installment of our “Diving into December” series, we will take a look at the best ways to organize mail and other important printed documents.
Why It Matters
Even though many organizations and government agencies have gone paperless, many still send out important notices and action items in the mail. It may not be as common as it once was, but keeping on top of your mail and ensuring that you are holding on to important documentation is a key part of transition and moving into adulthood. Read below to learn more about how to organize your mail, whether it is junk mail, an action item, or an important notice.
The first step to organizing mail is to know what each piece of mail is and what it says. There are a variety of ways to do this, including:
- Reader: Hiring a human reader to assist you in going through your mail is never a bad option, so long as you know that you can trust the person because the mail you are sorting through may contain sensitive information.
- Aira: Aira is a service where you can contact a trained sighted agent from your smartphone to get assistance with visual tasks in real-time. Please check out this Bridges Helpdesk post about Aira to learn more about their service.
- Seeing AI: Seeing AI is a text recognition app that we have featured in a past post. We recommend the short text mode and the document mode for reading mail. Please reference this Bridges Helpdesk post for more information.
Types of Mail
Being aware of which kinds of mail and documents are important can help you have a better idea of how you may want to sort them. Here is an overview of some types of mail or documentation you can expect:
- Important Notices: Holding onto any notices you receive /is important because you may need to offer them as documentation in the future. For example, you could receive a notice that your student loan of a particular amount was approved, or you may receive your benefits letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
- Action Items: One form of mail is the action item letter. SSA may be sending you a letter to check in with you, or a doctor’s office may be sending you a bill for a co-pay you owe. You will want to take note of what the sender is asking and how they suggest you take action, such as going online, calling a specific phone number, or sending in a letter or check.
- Identifying Documentation: Many schools, apartment complex applications, and training facilities require that you submit critical documentation, including your social security card, birth certificate, or immunization records. These are important documents to keep set aside so that you can be sure not to lose them.
- Junk Mail: Junk mail can take the form of advertisements or anything that you feel is not relevant to you. There is not much you need to do with junk mail, although it is worth noting that being sure to dispose of the mail is important because it will help you avoid piling up mail that you would then have to go through once again.
Once you know what all of the items are and you have an understanding of these kinds of mail, you may then organize them accordingly. Here are some tips for organizing mail and other important documents:
- Envelopes: Using large envelopes to organize mail can help you keep track of and then locate particularly important documents. You may use brightly colored envelopes, Braille your own envelopes, or make some sort of tactile indication on the envelopes to differentiate them. An alternative to this method is creating labels on index cards and using paper clips to keep the index card with the corresponding mail item.
- Filing System: At any basic office supply store, you can find an accordion file folder that is divided into sections by paper or plastic. You could label each section in Braille or with your favorite indicators to know what papers are contained in each section.
- WayAround: WayAround sells labels (called WayTags) specifically to help with office organization. You may purchase WayTags and then use the WayAround app to type in what you want to be spoken when each label is scanned. You might choose to include a simple label about what the item is, or you could add in any information that you want to be sure to have on file for yourself in the future. Then, you can use the app later to scan the WayTag for each file and hear the label and any other stored information read aloud to you.
- Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:
- Our Accessible web form
- Email: Helpdesk@imagemd.org
- Text: Send to: (410) 305-9199
- Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page or Facebook Messenger
- Voice mail: Call (443) 320-4003, leave a voice mail message, and we will return your call
This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.