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.
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:
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).
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
Online human visual assistance
- Aira is a service where you can contact a trained sighted agent from your smartphone to get assistance with visual tasks in real time. Check out the Bridges Resource Library Aira entry to learn more about this service.
- Be My Eyes is a free service that uses human volunteers from around the world to provide visual information. Check out the Bridges Resource Library By My Eyes entry to learn more about this service.
- 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. Check out the Bridges Resource Library Seeing AI entry to earn more about the app.
- KNFB Reader is a fee-based app that performs optical character recognition (OCR) on documents. Check out the Bridges Resource Library KNFB Reader entry to learn more about the app.
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:
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.
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 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 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.
Contact the Bridges Helpdesk for More Information
- Our Accessible web form
- Email: Helpdesk@imagemd.org
- Text: Send to: (410) 357-1546
- Voice mail: Call (410) 357-1546, 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.
Updated as of September 8, 2023.